HTTP vs. HTTPS: How SSL/TLS Encryption Works | Summary and Q&A

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August 10, 2022
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Ahrefs
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HTTP vs. HTTPS: How SSL/TLS Encryption Works

TL;DR

Learn the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, how encryption works, where to get SSL certificates, and how to fix HTTPS-related issues on your website.

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Key Insights

  • πŸ”’ HTTP is a protocol used to fetch resources like HTML documents and images, but it sends data as plain text, making it vulnerable to interception by hackers.
  • πŸ” HTTPS is an upgraded version of HTTP that includes security features. It encrypts data before it travels across the internet, protecting sensitive information from being compromised.
  • πŸ“ˆ Google considers HTTPS as a ranking signal and categorizes it under their page experience signals, emphasizing its importance for web pages' ranking.
  • πŸ“¬ The analogy of sending a package through the mail helps illustrate the difference between HTTP and HTTPS. HTTP is like sending a package without any protection, while HTTPS is like sending a package in an indestructible safe.
  • πŸ” HTTPS secures data using cryptographic protocols such as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security), which authenticate the website's identity and enable encrypted data transfer between the client and server.
  • πŸ’³ There are three types of certificates for HTTPS: Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV), and Extended Validation (EV), with DV certificates being the most basic and available for free at LetsEncrypt.org.
  • πŸ” To check for HTTPS issues on your website, you can perform a Google search using "site:yourdomain.com -inurl:https" to see if any unsecure URLs are indexed.
  • πŸ” Conducting a website audit using tools like Ahrefs Site Audit can help identify and address HTTPS-related issues, such as internal links to HTTP pages, ensuring your site remains secure and optimized for search engines.

Transcript

Today, you're going to learn everything you need to know about HTTP vs. HTTPs. We'll talk about the difference between these two protocols, how SSL and TLS encryption work, where you can get a free SSL certificate and why you might not want to do that, and we'll finish things off with finding and fixing HTTPS related issues on your website. Let's g... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

HTTP is a protocol used to fetch web resources, but it sends information as plain text, making it vulnerable to attacks by intercepting data. HTTPS, on the other hand, is a secure version of HTTP that encrypts data transmission, protecting sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized parties.

Q: How does HTTPS encryption work?

HTTPS encryption is achieved using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocols. When a user tries to connect to a website with SSL, the server provides an SSL certificate to authenticate its identity. Once authenticated, a virtual handshake occurs, and encrypted data is exchanged between the client and the server, keeping the information secure from hackers.

Q: Can I get a free SSL certificate for my website?

Yes, you can obtain a free SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt, a widely trusted certificate authority. Let's Encrypt offers Domain Validation (DV) certificates, which provide basic security. However, if you require higher security and better identification, you may need to purchase an Organization Validation or Extended Validation certificate from other providers.

Q: How can I check if my website has HTTPS-related issues?

You can perform a Google search using the query "site:yourdomain.com -inurl:https" to see if any unsecure URLs are indexed. Alternatively, you can use website audit tools like Ahrefs Site Audit, which can identify and provide details on HTTPS-related issues on your site, such as internal links to HTTP pages.

Q: Why is HTTPS important for website owners?

HTTPS is important because it protects sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, from being intercepted by attackers. It is also a ranking signal for search engines like Google, and having HTTPS improves website security and user trust.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • HTTP is a protocol used to fetch web resources, but it sends information as plain text, making it vulnerable to attacks.

  • HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP that encrypts data, protecting sensitive information from being intercepted by hackers.

  • SSL and TLS are cryptographic protocols used by HTTPS to authenticate and encrypt data transmission.

  • You can obtain a free SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt, but there are also organization validation and extended validation certificates available for purchase.

  • To ensure your website is secure, check for HTTPS-related issues using Google search or a website audit tool like Ahrefs Site Audit.

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