HyperText Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, is a set of rules that transfer the webpage between a browser and the server it is hosted on. It’s been around since the beginning of the internet and without it, you wouldn’t be able to access websites. To transfer data between points, HTTP uses “plain text” which means that anyone that wants to can read this conversion and see what is being shared. This can be easily exploited by hackers to steal any sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, personal details, and more. It doesn’t matter if you’re using cheap VPS hosting to run a personal blog, or if you’re a well-established E-Commerce website, all your data can be easily stolen. To solve this serious security issue, HTTPS was created.

How HTTPS works

To put it simply, this conversation used in HTTP is the same in this version. The trick is that with HTTPS everything passing through your server to the browser and vice versa is now encrypted. This means that no third-party can actually understand or even decrypt what is being transferred.

http to https

Privacy Protection Illustration by Supersense

The encryption is created via the Secure Socket Layer (SSL), or what is now known as the Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate. It, along with a unique encryption key generated for the browser, perform a so-called “handshake”. Before the conversion, the server and the browser agree on 2 things: what kind of encryption both are going to use and what keys are going to cipher the whole transfer. Once this is done, they communicate in the same encrypted language that no one else can understand. This means that all data passing through your cheap VPS hosting server and the browser is completely secure.

Why people use it

There are three main reasons why people are switching to HTTPS or start using it from the get-go once they create a website. These are:

  • Confidentiality. The internet is a public medium and without proper measures, anyone can spy on anyone. HTTPS solves this by protecting all communication between two parties and provides much-needed privacy. This way, for example, visitors can feel safer when purchasing goods from websites via public Wi-Fi access points.
  • Integrity. If a hacker can see the information, they can alter it. Even someone on the same Wi-Fi can add extra stuff on your website, like advertisements, or even reduce picture and video quality. HTTPS makes sure that all data reaches the destined party unaltered.
  • Authentication. Some users that run Wi-Fi access points might have malicious intent and send browsers to fake websites. HTTPS checks if the website is actually what it claims to be by checking the data behind it, like the certificate, and in some cases, even the legal identity of the person running the page.

This is great for everyone, even those running just a simple static website or a portfolio page via cheap VPS hosting. HTTPS ensures that content reaches users as it’s supposed to, where it’s supposed to go.

What are the benefits

Those that host simple websites with low traffic and don’t have any features that require personal information might think that sticking to simple HTTP is enough or that no hackers are going to try to steal their data. But the thing that you’re risking then is your own sensitive data. That’s why it’s in everyone’s best interest to choose HTTPS. Switching to it also provides you with:

  • Better security & privacy. As previously mentioned, the most important aspect of it is security. Since everything that is transferred is being encryption, third parties can’t steal any data or alter it. This is especially important for those websites that sell products, have log-in systems, or any other interface that can be used to send sensitive information. You’re protecting their privacy and your system from any possible security breaches.
  • Perceived security. The average user is also becoming more concerned about the security of their data online. Even Google is taking a stand by HTTPS – any website that doesn’t run on it, now shows a warning in the URL bar that it is not protected. Naturally, few visitors choose to stay on these pages. Those that do have encryption have a little padlock icon and more and more users are looking for it as it indicates that the site protects their information.
  • Improved website performance. Even while cheap VPS hosting proves to be fast & reliable, switching to HTTPS also gives a significant performance boost. This is because HTTP uses a text-based protocol that is better suited for the early websites which were mainly static and didn’t have complicated content. An advanced version of HTTP, known as HTTP/2, is built with modern webpages in mind as it employs binary protocol: each byte is clearly defined and multiplexing can be done, allowing for a faster connection between the server and the browser.
  • An SEO boost. Switching to encrypted communication is very handy for those who are working hard to improve their website ranking in search engines. Since 2014, Google has been including HTTPS as a ranking factor, and although it plays a small part in it, it’s still enough to beat out some competitors. Your webpages might tie in every single ranking signal but if you have HTTPS, yours will rank higher.

The great thing about this more secure HTTP version is that all websites can switch to it and benefit from enhanced protection. All you need is good hosting services that support the latest TLS protocol and HTTP versions. This shouldn’t be a problem as even cheap VPS hosting providers support it nowadays. In this day and age when data security is essential webpage owners should do everything they can to ensure it – implementing HTTPS is just the first big step.

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