HTTPS vs HTTP: What's The Difference?

When browsing a website, have you ever noticed the web address' format? The web address may either begin with http or https.

What's the difference?

First, we need to find out what HTTP and HTTPS stand for. HTTP refers to the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol while HTTPS stands for Secure Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. You may have already noticed that only a single word separates the latter from the former. We will start with discussing the basics of HTTP and HTTPS.

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol:

HTTP refers to an application layer protocol. You can simply say that it only focuses on how the information is presented. It does not really care how data gets from Point A to Point B. In other words, it does not remember anything about the previous Web session. By default, HTTP operates on Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) Port 80. This means that for you to use HTTP, your computer should send and receive data specifically through this port. Non-negotiable.

Secure Hyper Text Transfer Protocol:

Let's just say that HTTPS is the more practical and secure way of using HTTP. It operates on TCP Port 443 and it works in conjunction with another protocol often referred to as Secure Sockets Layer(SSL). SSL ensures that data are transported safely. Now this gives you peace of mind in the event you make an online purchase and you are required to enter your credit card information. SSL does not have a set of prying eyes. In fact, it does not really care what the data looks like.

How does HTTP differ from HTTPS?

Well, aside from the fact that they operate on separate TCP ports, the process is another noticeable distinction.

As you interact with data, HTTP simply presents the data to you through your web browser. This enables your browser to get an idea what to do once you click. HTTP has very limited role to play. Once the data travels, HTTP's job stops there.

Although HTTPS works the same, it has the ability to differentiate one sender and receiver from another. SSL plays an important role in taking the data both going or coming. SSL encrypts the data using mathematical algorithm, which hides the data's true meaning. The encryption only takes place when the website owner makes a purchase of a time-sensitive certificate.

Now that you have an idea about the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, the next article will answer a question on whether or not you need HTTPS for your e-commerce website.

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