HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) secures the connection to the website you are visiting. No doubt you’ve seen this online. Take a look at the address bar in the browser and find the lock icon on the left side. If the lock is closed then the connection is secure. If it’s open or is there is another icon or message, then it’s not secure and vulnerable to attack. Using a non-secure connection means hackers or criminals could intercept the data such as personal information, email addresses and passwords.
What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
When you type in a URL in the search bar, your browser asks the site for its IP address. The browser makes the connection. This is all done with no encryption so anyone can intercept this traffic. So when you want to log in to a site that you connect to via an HTTP connection, the username and password is sent in plain text. This is really not great practice.
HTTPS secures this process. HTTPS encrypts the connection between the browser and the site, therefore making sure that no one can intercept the data sent between those two. Every site that wants to secure itself needs a so-called SSL certificate. The browser checks the certificate of the site and verifies its legitimacy with the company that issued it. If you want to see who issued the certificate, please click on the lock icon. By using HTTPS, sites not only secure your login procedure and personal data but also what you do on a site and which sites you visit.
Besides securing the web, HTTPS is necessary for sites that want to upgrade to a new, safer and much faster internet protocol called HTTP/2. This protocol includes different new technologies that make sites a lot faster to load.
What is the benefit of HTTPS for a site user?
All internet users have the right to privacy on the web. Everyone is doing so many mission-critical things on the web these days that we value any kind of security we can get. An ever-increasing number of websites are moving to HTTPS because it’s a must. Even if you own the bakery around the corner and don’t send or request sensitive data via your website.
What is the value for HTTPS for Search Engine Optimisation?
Google announced in 2014 that HTTPS would become a ranking signal. Today, your rankings will hardly change when you activate HTTPS although some businesses have reported traffic drops shortly after switching. But it’s not just about rankings as much as it is about user experience and gaining trust with your future customers. It’s inevitable that we are moving to an all-HTTPS web. It is, therefore, incredibly important that your site makes the switch to HTTPS as soon as possible.
How do I make the switch on my business website?
Obtain a security certificate as a part of enabling HTTPS for your site. The certificate is issued by a certificate authority (CA), which takes steps to verify that your web address actually belongs to your organisation, thus protecting your customers from man-in-the-middle attacks. When setting up your certificate, ensure a high level of security by choosing a 2048-bit key. If you already have a certificate with a weaker key (1024-bit), upgrade it to 2048 bits. When choosing your site certificate, keep in mind the following:
- Get your certificate from a reliable CA that offers technical support.
- Decide the kind of certificate you need:
- Single certificate for single secure origin (e.g. www.mybiz.com.au).
- Multi-domain certificate for multiple well-known secure origins (e.g. www.mybiz.com.au, cdn.mybiz.com.au, mybiz.com.au).
- Wildcard certificate for a secure origin with many dynamic subdomains (e.g. a.mybiz.com.au, b.mybiz.com.au).
The best place to start is with your existing web hosting company. They have a vested interest in getting their clients to transfer and will make things as easy as possible. Just remember that search engines such as Google consider the switch from HTTP to HTTPS as a ‘site move’. This can have temporary impacts on traffic which affect some business more than others.
Get in touch with us if you are considering making the switch. We’d be happy to take a look at your current website arrangements and advise on the best way forward.