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HTTP vs. HTTPS: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
HTTP is the standard protocol for transmitting web content, while HTTPS is its secure version, using encryption to protect data.

Key Differences

HTTP, standing for HyperText Transfer Protocol, is a system used to send and receive information on the web. It serves as a request-response protocol in which a client requests information, and a server provides it. However, HTTP has a fundamental drawback: it lacks security. Data transmitted using HTTP is in plain text, making it susceptible to eavesdropping or tampering by malicious entities.
Enter HTTPS, which means HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. As the name implies, HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP. It employs a layer of security on the data, using encryption protocols such as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security). This encryption ensures that the information being transferred between the client and server remains confidential and intact.
One of the critical distinctions between HTTP and HTTPS lies in their URLs. Websites that utilize HTTPS will have their URLs starting with "https://", while those using HTTP begin with "http://". This differentiation is crucial as it instantly informs users if their connection to the website is secure or not.
Another notable difference between HTTP and HTTPS is the presence of certificates. For a website to use HTTPS, it must obtain a certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA). This certificate verifies the website's legitimacy, ensuring users that the site they're visiting is genuine and not a malicious imitation. In contrast, HTTP does not have such verification mechanisms.
In essence, while both HTTP and HTTPS are protocols to transfer web content, HTTPS offers an additional layer of security, ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and verification through certificates.

Comparison Chart


Not secure, transmits data in plain text.
Secure, uses encryption protocols like SSL/TLS.

URL Prefix

Begins with "http://".
Begins with "https://".


Lacks verification mechanisms.
Requires a certificate from a Certificate Authority.

Data Encryption

No encryption.
Encrypts data to protect against eavesdropping.


Generally faster due to lack of encryption overhead.
Slightly slower due to encryption processes.

HTTP and HTTPS Definitions


A system facilitating the exchange of data between a client and server.
When you browse a website, HTTP processes your request to view the page.


A secure protocol for transmitting web content.
Banking websites use HTTPS to protect user information.


A protocol for transmitting information on the web.
Websites starting with http:// use HTTP.


A web communication method with SSL/TLS encryption layers.
HTTPS websites encrypt user data, making it unreadable to eavesdroppers.


A method of data communication without encryption.
HTTP websites risk exposing user data to hackers.


An enhanced version of HTTP with encryption.
HTTPS ensures that data between your browser and the website is encrypted.


A web standard lacking built-in security mechanisms.
Data transmitted over HTTP can be intercepted by third parties.


A system using certificates for website verification.
Websites with HTTPS have certificates verifying their authenticity.


A foundational technology behind the World Wide Web.
HTTP enables web browsers to fetch and display web pages.


A protocol offering data confidentiality and integrity.
With HTTPS, users can be sure their information remains private and unaltered.


A protocol used to request and transmit files, especially webpages and webpage components, over the internet or other computer network.


Alternative form of HTTPS


A protocol (utilizing TCP) to transfer hypertext requests and information between servers and browsers


How can I tell if a website uses HTTP or HTTPS?

Check the URL; "http://" indicates HTTP, while "https://" denotes HTTPS.

Does HTTPS affect website speed?

HTTPS can be slightly slower due to encryption processes, but advancements minimize this impact.

What does HTTP stand for?

HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol.

How does a website switch from HTTP to HTTPS?

It requires obtaining an SSL/TLS certificate and implementing it on the server.

Why do some browsers warn against HTTP websites?

Due to lack of encryption, HTTP sites are potentially unsafe, prompting browsers to issue warnings.

Do all websites need to use HTTPS?

While not mandatory, using HTTPS is recommended, especially for sites handling sensitive data.

What's the main benefit of switching to HTTPS?

It offers enhanced security, data integrity, and user trust.

Why is HTTPS considered more secure than HTTP?

HTTPS employs encryption protocols like SSL/TLS, ensuring data security.

Does HTTPS impact SEO rankings?

Yes, search engines may favor HTTPS sites as they offer better user security.

Why is there a padlock icon with HTTPS websites?

It symbolizes that the site is secure and has a valid SSL/TLS certificate.

Do all modern browsers support HTTPS?

Yes, modern browsers support and often promote the use of HTTPS.

Can HTTPS be implemented on any server?

Most servers support HTTPS, but configuration and certificate implementation are required.

What happens if an HTTPS certificate expires?

Browsers may display warnings, potentially deterring visitors from accessing the site.

Can HTTP sites handle online transactions?

While technically possible, it's risky due to lack of data encryption.

Is data sent over HTTP visible to ISPs?

Yes, since it's unencrypted, ISPs and potential eavesdroppers can view it.

Can hackers target HTTPS sites?

While harder to breach than HTTP, HTTPS sites can still be targeted, emphasizing a holistic security approach.

Is HTTPS infallible against cyberattacks?

While HTTPS enhances security, no system is entirely immune to sophisticated cyber threats.

Are HTTPS certificates always paid?

No, some organizations, like Let's Encrypt, offer free certificates.

Is HTTPS the only security measure for websites?

No, while crucial, other security measures like firewalls and malware scans are also essential.

How does HTTPS encryption work?

It uses SSL/TLS protocols to encode data, ensuring only the intended recipient can decode it.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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