Why upgrading to HTTPS is important

24 January 2017

When visiting a website, the web server it is on and your computer will communicate using a protocol that is known as HTTP. This stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and does have fundamental weaknesses that are important to recognise.

But what do HTTP and HTTPS mean? Well, HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure but what are the differences, drawbacks and benefits?

HTTP Can Be Intercepted

A weakness with HTTP is that the information that is passing between the website and your computer is not encrypted, which means in theory it is possible for any potential attacker to intercept and read the content that is being transferred.

HTTP can’t be verified

Another one of its weaknesses is that there isn’t any way for your computer to be able to verify the identity of a website when using HTTP. This would, in theory, make it possible for attackers to mimic and impersonate the website that you are visiting, and could result in them delivering malicious content to yourself or attempting to steal your sensitive information.

Though these weaknesses might not sound too serious for anyone visiting a website that is purely informational, there are clearly evident problems when dealing with a website that handles sensitive materials such as online shopping or banking sites.

Both of the weaknesses above can be solved by using a secure communication channel and the present standard for this is Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Transport Layer Security or as it’s simply know as HTTPS.

You will be able to tell very easily and obviously if a site is using HTTPS or not by looking at the URL address bar at the top of the browser you are using. A connection that is using HTTPS will have an indication in the form of a symbol such as a key or padlock located next to the address, typically on the left as well as the actual URL address displaying HTTPS rather than HTTP at the start of it.

If your site has areas that require users logging in and especially is you run an online shopping site, the advantages of using HTTPS and why it’s the way to go should be fairly apparent.

My site doesn’t handle information, so why would I want to?

Even if your site isn’t handling sensitive information, you should still care about using an HTTPS connection for the following reasons.

Google and visitor confidence

Google use HTTPS as a ranking signal and their search rankings will favour HTTPS over HTTP. It can also help boost user’s confidence in your business when visitors to your site see the security symbol and the HTTPS as part of the URL. Using HTTPS will show that you value the privacy of your visitors, even if you’re not receiving any personal or sensitive information from them.

HTTPS can be considerably faster than HTTP

Some modern technologies are designed to make websites faster, but will only work with sites that are HTTPS.

We would recommend that all new websites should use HTTPS. If your website is built already, we can help convert it and we are able to assist you with the purchase and installation of a professionally signed security certificate.