How HTTPS is Making The Internet Safe Again!

Posted on 8th May 2019 by Samantha in Ecommerce, Optimisation, Website
6 minutes read
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HTTPS Encryption
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Top sites that use HTTPS encrypt their data securely. More than half of all internet traffic is now encrypted according to LetsEncrpyt, this makes the internet safer for everyone. Migrate to HTTPS connection to secure HTTP traffic to safeguard sensitive data. When sending data over the internet you not only send data from browser to server your data travels through multiple networks in order to reach the destination server. At any point malicious users can intercept traffic.

What Is HTTPS?

HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) adds a layer of encryption to protect webiste’s traffic. This prevents risks of data getting into unwanted hands. The browser and server still communicate using HTTP protocols however over a secure SSL/TLS connection that encrypts traffic. This layer verifies that your browser is communicating with the correct server vice versa.

What Is HTTP?

HTTP, an internet hypertext protocol, is for data transfers over the internet. When accessing a website your browser sends a request to the website’s server. The webserver responds with a HTTP status code. If the URL is valid the server will send all files to build the webpage within the browser.

How to Establish SSL Connections

When accessing a website using SSL connections your browser makes a secure connection with the web server. We can refer to this as a “handshake”.

First your browser sends a message to the webserver outlining important information required for the server to respond. This includes information such as the Cipher Suit an encryption algorithm that will be used to encrypt traffic. The browser indicates the maximum version of SSL supported to ensure traffic can be read correctly.

The webserver processes the information then decides which Cipher Suit algorithm to use to send traffic securely. This with additional information is sent to the browser in order to establish a secure connection.

Once your browser request a connection it will need to verify that it is communicating with the correct server, this prevents Domain Hijacking. This is achieved by using an SSL certificate, simply put it’s a form of ID servers use to verify that they are the correct server. Before encrypted traffic can be sent both the server and browser need to agree on a decryption key in order to read the HTTP data. This is done using symmetric-key algorithm, think of this as a key that unlocks the encrypted data. Once the browser and server have agreed on the encryption used and what key will be used to decrypt HTTP data can be successfully transferred and read between both parties.

If any errors occurs it is recommended to read our guide on SSL errors with solutions.

What Is A SSL Certificate?

An SSL Certificates is actually a text document.  These serve to verify the server’s identity. This includes information regarding Version, Serial Number, Valid Dates, Public Key, Digital signature etc. Anyone can create a SSL certificate claiming to be any website. To prevent fake SSL certificates the browser must check the digital signature against a reputable SSL certificate authority such as Symantec or Sectigo to ensure authenticity. The most common certificate used would be Positive SSL which is recommended for all websites.

Certificate Transparency

Google Certificate transparency addresses security risks within the SSL certificate system. Security risks expose the integrity of the SSL system including domain validation and end-to-end encryption. Without an authority figure monitoring SSL certificates anyone can generate a certificate to commit crimes such as Website spoofing and server impersonation in order to steal encrypted data.

Certificate Transparency reduces these risks by detecting SSL certificates that have either been fraudulently obtained or given by a fraudulent certificate authority.  Any authority can go rouge and generate SSL certificates in order to commit fraud. Certificate transparency is built upon public framework allowing users to maintain the integrity of the SSL certificate system.

5 Benefits From Using HTTPS

1. Secures Traffic

Migrate to HTTPS to Increase data security while in transit to prevent unauthorised people viewing sensitive information.

2. Increases Trust

SSLs or TLS trigger HTTPS in bowsers and users can easily check if a website is secure with a quick glance. You can see this by viewing the webpage’s address bar. If this is present, certainly you will see a padlock at the start of the URL and a static or dynamic site seal at the end of the page. Many users recognise this secure padlock as safe a safety feature, this increases trust. Users who know that websites are secure are more likely to do business or return to the site. So if users establish trust with your site – they will have more confidence to enact transactions for example.

3. Improves SEO

Google wants the internet to be safe and secure for all users. Googles search engine now favours websites that use HTTPS over HTTP. Migrate to HTTPS to boost your search rankings when compared to HTTP competitors. To improve your websites performance read our free ranking tips. Google uses HTTPS as a ranking criterion to strategically place top websites in search engines.

4. Track Traffic Sources

There are many programs such as Google Analytics that analyse your website giving you real time reports on active visitors and traffic sources. Theses services cannot operate efficiently over normal HTTP connections. For example, if using HTTP you can see traffic is flowing to your websites. When you use HTTPS, you can see where the traffic came from and what keywords where used. Ultimately giving you a better understanding of how users locate your website – allowing you to optimise it and maximise traffic.

5. Ensures Content Integrity

HTTPS makes replacing content within your website harder for malicious users. Malicious users replace content within your website with links to malware to infect users. Repressive governments  may implement a more extreme version of content replacement in order to restrict content citizens view. China is an excellent example of this. To ensure the Chinese government can control what their citizens view they restrict internet usage. Google China is the only Google website not using HTTPS. This allows the Chinese government to edit content when required. This restricts what their citizens can view and post online heavily restricting freedom of speech within China. This prevents citizens viewing content that may show the government in a negative light.

What HTTPS Does Not Guarantee.

Career criminals are taking advantage of HTTPS in order to obtain a padlock. As many users associate this as secure, they immediately believe the website is legit. It is important to remember anyone can obtain a SSL Certificate. Many phishing websites can still trick victims into a false sense of security in order to obtain personal data to commit fraud. As a precaution, always check the legitimacy of a website or company before handing over any personal information.

HTTPS is not the only way to ensure your website is safe and secure. So we recommend taking advantage of our free website safety checklist.