In this article, we will explain what HTTPS means in a website address (HTTPS decryption), how this protocol works, and why switch to a secure connection at all.
What is a secure HTTPS connection
HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is a secure data transfer protocol that supports encryption using the SSL and TLS cryptographic protocols, and is an extended version of the HTTP protocol. To better understand what HTTPS means, let’s take a look at everything in order.
Millions of Internet users are constantly exchanging information. These can be friendly conversations, funny pictures, work correspondence, as well as bank and passport data, contract numbers and other confidential information. The entire world wide web is based on the HTTP protocol. Thanks to him, users can transfer data.
At first, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) was used only as a hypertext (cross-referenced text) transfer protocol. However, it later became clear that it is great for transferring data between users. The protocol was refined for new tasks and began to be used everywhere.
Despite its functionality, HTTP has one very important drawback – insecurity. Data between users is transmitted in clear text, an attacker can interfere with the transfer of data, intercept it or change it. To protect user data, the HTTPS protocol was created.
HTTPS works thanks to SSL / TLS certificate. An SSL / TLS certificate is a digital signature of a website or a web app. With its help, its authenticity is confirmed. Before establishing a secure connection, the browser requests this document and contacts the certification authority to confirm the legality of the document. If it is valid, then the browser considers this site safe and starts exchanging data. This is where it came from and what S stands for in HTTPS.
The HTTPS system is like a wire, which consists of two layers: a copper core and a sheath. The copper core is the main part of the wire through which the current flows. The shell protects the contacts from external influences. So, the copper core is the HTTP protocol, and the security shell is the SSL certificate. This collaboration creates a secure HTTPS connection.
In addition to verifying the authenticity of the site, the SSL certificate encrypts data. After the browser has verified the authenticity of the site, the exchange of ciphers begins. HTTPS encryption is done using a symmetric and asymmetric key. Here’s what it means:
Public-key cryptography – each side has two keys: public and private. The public key is available to anyone. The private one is known only to the owner. If the browser wants to send a message, then it finds the server’s public key, encrypts the message and sends it to the server. The server then decrypts the received message using its private key. To respond to the user, the server does the same: search for the interlocutor’s public key, encrypt, send.
Symmetric key – both sides have one key with which they transmit data. There should already be initial contact between the two parties so that the browser and server know which language to communicate in.
To establish an HTTPS connection, the browser and server must agree on a symmetric key. To do this, first, the browser and the server exchange asymmetrically encrypted messages, where they indicate the secret key, and then communicate using symmetric encryption.
So what is the function of the HTTPS protocol?
Encryption. Information is transmitted in encrypted form. Thanks to this, cyber-criminals cannot steal information exchanged by site visitors, as well as track their actions on other pages.
Authentication. Visitors are confident that they are going to the official website of the company, and not to a duplicate one made by an intruder.
Saving data. The protocol records all data changes. If the attacker still tried to break the protection, you can find out about this from the saved data.
It is also worth mentioning which port is used by the default HTTPS protocol. HTTPS uses port 443 for connection – it does not need to be configured additionally.
How HTTPS works
So, the HTTPS protocol is for a secure connection. To understand how this connection is established and how HTTPS works, let’s look at the mechanism step by step.
For example, let’s take a situation: a user wants to go to the hpmhosting.com or a Reddit post , which works over the secure HTTPS protocol.
- The user’s browser asks for an SSL certificate.
- The site sends the certificate to HTTPS.
- The browser verifies the authenticity of the certificate with a certification authority.
- The browser and site agree on a symmetric key using asymmetric encryption.
- The browser and the site transmit encrypted information.
Why install HTTPS
As we said earlier, the main task of HTTPS is to ensure the security of data transmission. However, there are several more reasons to switch to a secure connection:
Site insecurity mark. At the moment, Google, Bing and Yahoo, although they allow users to open sites via HTTP, consider them unsafe and warn about this in the address bar of the browser. This could be “Not Protected” or a red exclamation mark. The designation may differ depending on the browser:
Visual designation attracts the attention of users and makes them refuse to visit the site, so there is a risk of losing potential customers.
Trust: Websites that care about user data are trusted by customers. This adds to the loyalty of the audience.
SEO Optimization: Search engines are suspicious of sites using the HTTP protocol. Even with proper SEO optimization, you may not achieve the desired indicators.
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Websites are not required to operate exclusively over the HTTPS protocol. However, data protection is an important element of modern internet communication. When the site is running on an insecure connection, the browser may display the “Connection is not secure” error. If you are a user and have come across such a message on the Internet, it is better to leave an unsafe resource. How to fix the error “Your connection is not secure” if you are the owner of the site? Do not neglect the security of customers who trust organizations with their personal information. Order an SSL certificate from Namecheap and move your site to a secure HTTPS connection. If you have performed these settings before, but the site still has an error message, follow the instructions from your web hosting provider.