What is HTTPS, and Does My Site Need It?

As the world becomes more and more connected through the internet, security will continue to be an area of importance on the web. HTTPS is a way of helping to make your website more secure when visitors communicate through it.

Before we go on, imagine the following scenario…

As proficient speakers of English, you and a friend travel to a remote area far from civilization where natives have never heard the English language. Let’s hypothesize that the local tribesmen don’t feel threatened and don’t try to shove a spear through your chest. Instead, they invite you and your friend to a feast at sunset! While feasting, you and your friend decide to converse about the foul body odor rising off the natives. Thankfully, because they don’t speak English, they have no idea that you’re both disgusted by the smell and therefore don’t get offended when you use the terms “gag” or “rather be locked in a barrel of week-old baby diapers”. They simply continue to smile and eat.

That’s a simplified explanation of how HTTPS works. Your computer and the website you’re visiting can communicate in a way that others are unable to understand. So even though someone might be able to hear you, they cannot understand what you’re saying thanks to the encryption that’s in place (as represented by “https”).

What is HTTP/S?

The HTTP acronym that you see in front of your URL stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol”. Basically, HTTP is how the internet is able to communicate. HTTPS, is the same things as HTTP but with the added bonus of something called SSL or TLS (this adds the “S” to the end).

Why Would I Want it on my Website?

Because HTTPS prevents others from intercepting data, you would want to use this technology on a website where sensitive information was transmitted. If your site collects credit card information or personal information of any kind, adding this to your site is encouraged. If you want to lessen the likelihood of someone successfully breaking into your site, it’s also encouraged.

Here’s a visual explanation of HTTPS.

If you’re a Silly Grasshopper client and would like to add SSL to your site, please let us know.

About the Author

My professional experience with the web reaches back more than a decade. During this time, I've been creating sites for individuals and businesses, working on a team of digital experience analysts as well as providing qualitative and quantitative research surrounding web and mobile technology.

Jonathan

Web Strategist

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