HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the primary protocol for the exchange of data between a website and a browser. HTTPS adds an ‘S’ onto the acronym, which stands for ‘secure’ and this is the encrypted form of the protocol.
In the early days of the worldwide web, HTTP was the only way of accessing the internet, which was perfectly adequate for the sharing and dissemination of non private information but increasingly unsuitable for sharing sensitive information such as credit card details.
It was Netscape, the now-defunct computer services company which developed the first version of HTTPS. Its executives had realised that the lack of security would inhibit the growth of what eventually became known as ecommerce. Netscape’s first efforts were flawed and it took many years of false turns and dead ends before HTTPS as it is known today delivered on the original concept.
How Does it work?
HTTPS uses an encryption protocol called Transport Layer Security (TLS), previously named Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It uses a two-key process: the private key is kept by the owner of the website while the public key is accessible to any visitor and encrypts their information in such a way that only the private key can decrypt it.
Initially, HTTPS was developed to keep credit card and bank account details secure in online transactions because without it, anyone with a little computer knowledge could view and misappropriate all the details of a transaction. For a time, websites would offer visitors the option to switch into HTTPS mode for any interaction but today, the vast majority of websites use it as matter of routine for the entire experience.
All major browsers will alert users who are visiting an insecure site and the lack of security will negatively affect the ability to rank. Nevertheless, sites do exist with the older prefix ‘http’, but they are increasingly rare. Since HTTPS has minimal costs and is easy to use, there is no reason not to adopt it.