HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is a set of rules that a server has to follow when it comes to the transmission of files (images, videos, audio, and other forms of files) through the World Wide Web (WWW). As a user opens a browser, they are already making use of an HTTP. Basically, it is an application protocol that runs through the top of the TCP/IP suite of protocols.
The mechanics and concept behind HTTP includes is that files are related to other files through a series of references. This selection will elicit the additional transmission requests. Any web server device actually contains a program that is called an HTTP daemon, which is a designed to anticipate HTTP requests and handle them when they arrive. Your typical web browser is an HTTP client which is constantly sending requests to server devices. The user enters file requests by going through a web file, which in this case is usually a URL, or click a link; the browser builds up an HTTP request and then sends it to an IP which is indicated through the URL.
HTTP follows the given cycle whenever it sends out a request:
- The browser would request an HTML page. The server would then return an HTML file from the host.1
- The browser would request a style sheet. The server then returns a CSS file.
- The browser requests a JPG image. The server returns a JPG file.
- The browser requests different forms of data. The server returns data in the form of XML or JSON files.
Difference between HTTP and HTTPS
Most individuals are not aware of the differences between the http:// and https:// since both are almost visually similar. Knowing the differences between these is paramount in being able to maintain a secure and efficient site that can protect information and data. Browsers have been designed so that the URL bar will highlight the S in HTTPS with a different color so that users will be able to notice.
Here are some clear differences between the two:
- HTTP – There is no data encryption that is being implemented.
- Every URL link uses the HTTP as the most basic type of Hypertext Transfer Protocol. With that in mind, an HTTP is likened to a system which does not belong to any state. This allows any connection to be enabled on demand.
- This protocol is basically an application layer protocol. What that means is that it focuses more on information that is being presented towards the user but does not focus on how that data is being transmitted from the source host towards the recipient. This can become a detriment since this means of delivery can easily be intercepted and traced by malicious third party users (usually known as hackers).
- HTTPS – The data is encrypted.
- Compared to HTTP, user information, such as credit card numbers and other forms of important personal information are encrypted. This stops any form of malicious third party users from accessing these forms of sensitive data.
- With a more secure network, users will have a higher level of confidence when using the site since their data is encrypted and users with malicious intent will have a difficult time hacking into their data.
- Statistics show that 84% of shoppers abandon websites once they know that the website is transferring data through an insecure channel.
- 29% of users are aware of the difference between HTTP and HTTPS and they actively look for this difference on the address bar.
- Being a new form of technology, HTTPS still has a few traits that are still considered experimental. As such, older types of browsers will have a difficult time adapting to these websites.
- As compared to just setting up a site with HTTP, transitioning towards HTTPS requires a user to go through several legal processes in order to acquire an SSL certificate. This means that owners of pages and sites have to expend money. Obtaining an SSL certificates is a paid service from a Certificate Authority.
- Because of the encoding process, the server routes power and processing time towards encoding the information before it is being transmitted.
Summary of technical difference between HTTP and HTTPS:
- HTTP is insecure while HTTPS is a secure protocol.
- HTTP uses TCP port 80 while HTTPS uses TCP port 4433.
- HTTP works within the application layer while HTTPS works within the Transport Layer Security (TLS).
- There is no SSL certificate that is required for HTTP but HTTPS requires an SSL certificate to be signed and implemented by a Certification Authority (CA).
- HTTP does not necessarily require domain validation while HTTPS mandatorily requires domain validations and certain certifications which do require a legal process.
- There is no data encryption in HTTP while data is being encrypted right before it is being transmitted for the HTTPS.
- HTTPS is an extension of HTTP. In this case, it jointly works together with another protocol, namely Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) in order to transmit the data safely.
- Both HTTP and HTTPS do not address the data will be transmitted towards its target destination. Inversely, SSL does not have any function whatsoever to do with how the data will appear.
Users often falsely believe that HTTPS and SSL are the same protocols. HTTPS is secure since it uses SSL in order to transmit data. Currently, SSL is slowly being phased out by TSL since it is an even more secure method of data encryption that is going to be sent.