What Does The “S” In HTTPS Stand For?

What Does The “S” In HTTPS Stand For?

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a security protocol primarily created to keep an internet connection safe. Apart from helping to secure data, another thing in it for people that use SSL is that it’s capable of mitigating phishing risks. That’s not all; it can also help to boost search engine ranking.

Here’s a quick question, while browsing the internet, have you ever noticed that some URLs come with “http://” while others have “https://?” If yes, then it’s safe to say that you know how the SSL certificates function. HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is an application-layer protocol 

that enables internet users to fetch resources quickly and easily.

The main function of the protocol is that it helps to initiate a connection with the server, acquiring HTML documents and sending them back to the user’s browser. No doubt, both HTTP and HTTPS have a lot of things in common. But, what exactly does the “S” behind HTTPS stand for? 

HTTPS is an acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. With that, it means the “S” in HTTPS stands for “Secure.” If you don’t know, HTTPS is a blend of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and SSL protocol. It primarily helps to keep communication over the internet safe.

HTTP is known as the foundation of every data exchange on the internet. However, since we’re now in a world where cyber attacks have become a day-to-day thing, there’s a need to keep the data secure as we exchange them on the web. In the rest of this article, you’ll find out everything about how HTTP and HTTPS function.

What You Need to Know About HTTP?

What is HTTP?

HTTP is a protocol that makes it possible to fetch various types of resources on the internet. As earlier mentioned, it’s the foundation upon which the exchange of data on the web is based.

Furthermore, you need to understand that Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a client-server protocol. That’s so because it works as a request-response protocol on the internet. In clearer terms, HTTP requires a user’s browser to first initiate a request before it can get to work.

How does Hypertext Transfer Protocol function?

As earlier stated, HTTP is the foundation of every information exchange on the internet. That’s quite true; resources are exchanged between the client’s device and web servers.

Over the Internet, the client’s device will need to first send a request to the web servers. The purpose of that is to ask for the resources necessary to load a certain page.

For a successful exchange of data between the client’s device and the server, there’s a need for the user to use a browser. The user does that by typing the necessary information in the browser’s URL field.

Since the web browser is the HTTP client, it’ll be the one to create the HTTP request, which will be the IP address related to the information entered by the user, as indicated by the URL.

As soon as the client’s request reaches the web server, the HTTP daemon will automatically receive it. It’ll proceed to retrieve the requested documents and send them back to the user’s browser.

HTTP: pros

With all that has been said so far, you’ll surely agree with me that the Hypertext Transfer Protocol offers a lot of benefits to internet users.

One of the advantages of HTTP is that it provides us with reduced network congestion. Apart from that, the client-server protocol is also capable of offering lower CPU and memory usage.

HTTP: cons

As important as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol is, you need to understand that it also has its weaknesses.

One of the drawbacks of the client-server protocol is that it doesn’t apply any encryption method. So, it’s extremely insecure to exchange data over this connection.

Furthermore, another setback of HTTP is that it doesn’t have any measures to secure data. It simply lacks data privacy, meaning that hackers can easily intercept and acquire sensitive information over the connection.

The Introduction of HTTPS

As earlier mentioned, HTTP isn’t secure for data exchange. This is one of the reasons why HTTPS was introduced, to address the issues of security over the internet.

HTTPS is an extension of HTTP. It means Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The “S” behind the HTTPS means “Secure” and it makes all the difference between it and the so-called HTTP.

Originally, the HTTPS protocol was introduced in 1994 by Netscape Communications. At the time, it was utilized as a blend of HTTP and SSL. However, as the Secure Sockets Layer evolved into Transport Layer Security or TLS, the HTTPS protocol was specified by RFC 2818. 

The primary function of HTTPS is to help internet users establish a secure connection when browsing the web. Furthermore, with HTTPS, it means data exchange between your browser and the server is protected by SSL or TLS.

How does HTTPS work?

As earlier mentioned, HTTPS protocol is more of a blend of HTTP and network security protocol (SSL or TLS). Let me break it down so you can understand how the secure protocol works.

It all starts with the client’s device or web browser checking the certificates to see that the site you’re connecting to is legit. After that, it proceeds to determine the type of encryption that’s perfect for both the web server and the browser to communicate. Furthermore, as the browser and the web server exchange data, they send each other public keys for encrypting and decrypting the information.

HTTPS Is Secure But Not 100%

There’s no denying that HTTPS is way more secure to use than HTTP. Of course, it helps to protect users against MitM attacks, which can be launched from compromised networks. It can also help to boost your ranking on search engines since Google now prioritizes websites with HTTPS over HTTP.

However, you need to understand that HTTPS isn’t 100% secure. For instance, in the cases of phishing, HTTPS might not be the best security measure to prevent the attack. Apart from that, you can also download malicious files from the so-called secured HTTPS connection.

Mark Lewis

Security nerd with a Data Privacy First mindset!

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