How Does HTTPS Work? – Complete Guide to HTTPS
Put simply, HTTPS is the secured version of HTTP. What HTTP stands for is Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, which is basically the format in which a request to access a certain website is configured, after which it is sent to the site pending approval. The same concept is true for any and all such exchanges.
Once this request has been approved, a process which takes all but a few microseconds, the user or client will then be able to explore the website in question. This makes things sound pretty straightforward, but unfortunately this exposes users wide open to all sorts of hacking attempts.
The potential for hacking occurs during the time the request is sent and the approval sent back. The request is sent in plain text, which means anyone who is able to eavesdrop on the exchange will also be able to pick up on the text and turn around and potentially use the information for harm.
This eavesdropping is very analogous to wiretapping phones in that the concept is nearly identical, and the goal is completely so. Eavesdropping on phone conversations employs similar techniques of intercepting the conversation and recording the exchange with the purpose of benefiting from the information – quite often at the expense of the people hacked.
How HTTPS Is Better Than HTTP
This is where HTTPS comes in. When it comes to sending the request, instead of having the request sent in plain text, HTTPS encrypts the message in a scrambled language that cannot be decoded. Thereby, it eliminates the user’s exposure to outside parties not welcomed to the information.
The thing is, hackers can still eavesdrop on the exchanges as unimpeded as before. The difference now is that they will be accessing the encrypted language instead of the original clear text, which renders their hacking efforts futile and all for nothing. This will decrease incentive for hacking activity in the future.
One of the main purposes of the extra security, or SSL, layer is to make sure the party you are communicating with is indeed the party you believe you are communicating with and not some imposter, which has been a recurring issue with HTTP.
Another main function of HTTPS is to make sure that the receiving party is the only one that can read the information sent and that you are the only one able to read their reply. This is done through the SSL layer. Here, an extra key is attached on top of the public key to the information, where the unique private key is only made available to the receiving party.
Google’s Change of Heart And the Imperative of HTTPS
Anyone who has any knowledge of online marketing accepts and understands the reality of Google’s hegemony in determining the success of their online marketing campaigns. Whatever idea you come up with to promote a product or service simply must comply with the almighty Google search engine algorithm.
The main reason why this is important is that Google has now decided to place increased emphasis on the security of websites, especially with regards to the safety of user information. As such, Google will now penalize websites that only have HTTP encryption on their search algorithm.
This means websites would be extremely foolish to not upgrade their level of encryption from HTTP to HTTPS, if they have not already. Of course, no one knows exactly how the algorithm works and how much each action affects a website’s rating on the search engine, but what is quite clear is that the importance of switching to HTTPS will certainly increase over time.