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Anyone who has browsed the internet is familiar with the HTTP that comes before a standard web address. It stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol and defines the format and transmittal of communications between browsers and servers. Recently, more websites have switched to a protocol called HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure). What exactly does this mean?

A primer on HTTPS

With HTTP, the communications between a web browser and the server transmit in plain text. Nowadays, anyone sharing an internet connection can readily see this information. This includes ISPs (Internet Service Providers), government agencies and hackers. To protect sensitive data, HTTPS was created. Through SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology, HTTPS encrypts the information transmitted.

With SSL a website has to obtain a set of cryptographic keys:  a private and public key through a certificate that a credible CA (certificate authority) issues. Then, through the SSL “handshake”, the keys receive an authenticated and encrypted secure connection between a browser and server.

Some modern solutions, such as the SonicWall firewall, forego direct connection between browsers and servers altogether. These solutions add another layer of security through the use of a firewall that inspects the traffic for data integrity.

This has become the new standard protocol for many websites. Any site transmitting credit card data, passwords, banking details or otherwise sensitive information uses HTTPS, and it is quickly becoming a necessity for all traffic.  Think Tech Advisors has experience with moving current websites to the newer protocol and constructing HTTPS websites from scratch. We understand the entire process and can upgrade your website’s security to provide a better user experience.

Why it matters

The obvious reason is to prevent would-be hackers from stealing data. These malicious actors can ruin a company’s reputation and cause major headaches for the affected users. For individuals, HTTPS connections prevent Internet service providers from spying too much.

In the United States, it’s legal for ISPs to sell your Internet activity to advertisers.  This breach of privacy is unacceptable for many consumers. It is even possible for ISPs to inject their own content into HTTP websites. In the future, this could lead to censorship or even more unwanted advertisements.

On the technical side, there’s a major revision of the HTTP protocol called HTTP/2. This revision provides many new features, including pipelining and compression so that pages load faster. Major web browsers require HTTPS encryption to use these new features. The professionals at Think Tech Advisors are ready to advise your company through these continually changing technological advancements.

If a business wants its website to compete in search rankings, it should switch to HTTPS sooner rather than later. Search behemoth Google now actively penalizes HTTP sites in its search results. Also, Chrome, its extremely popular browser, flags HTTP sites as being “unsafe” to users. This results in lost business and reduced trust in brands that do not change to HTTPS. Prevent this by reaching out to us for a consultation. We understand the technical side of ranking high as well as the marketing aspects.

How to tell whether a site is HTTPS

It’s pretty easy to see whether the site you’re browsing is encrypted. A secure website will start with https:// in the address bar near the top of your browser. Also, a small lock icon should be visible directly to the left of the web address. Always double-check the address to ensure it is valid.

Crafty scammers can obtain an HTTPS certificate and register a subdomain to make it look like a reputable site. If there are any concerns, contact a representative of the official website to confirm a link’s authenticity. Do not click any links that are suspicious in any way.

If your business needs guidance regarding your site’s security, contact us today to talk with one of our knowledgeable representatives. With more than 22 years in the business, we’ll make sure you’re ahead of the curve.