We often see HTTP and HTTPS typed into our address bars in web browsers but often do not know what they stand for or what role they play. These abbreviations in fact, represent important internet protocols that were designed for communication of different computers on the World Wide Web. We will explain both HTTP and HTTPS below and then present the basic differences between the two.
HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. It is a special protocol which is used for the exchange of information between a web browser and a web server. It is used to distribute information over the World Wide Web. HyperText is the name given to a structured text body that includes both programming and display text in it.
HTTP connects the different nodes that present the Web as a collection of countless computers. HTTP therefore, can be used to exchange HyperText over the medium of World Wide Web. It was developed by the same team which developed the World Wide Web and it was a necessary development in order to transfer information within the new network.
All the web browsers in modern times are able to transfer information using the now old HTTP structure as the new version was finally placed in 2015 with the name of HTTP/2.
It stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. It is simply the secure version of the same HTTP which also includes a special protocol to carry out information exchange in a secure manner. The development of HTTPS was the result of a logical need to have a security system which could be easily implemented to exchange sensitive information over the World Wide Web.
HTTPS uses the same information exchange mechanism but uses the SSL or Secure Sockets Layer for communication. This uses a set of keys which are called the public and private keys. These keys are used to encode information at both ends.
A web browser may share the public key with other applications so that they may also read the text from the web browser but the private key remains hidden and provides the encoding so that the information remains unreadable on its way to the server. When HTTPS is displayed in the address bar of your browser, then you are in fact, being provided a guarantee by the web server that the information exchange is safe here.
Using the Two Protocols
The two protocols are just designed to be used in different environments but they follow the same structure of HyperText that contains all the required information. HTTP is used for information exchange with ordinary websites that do not contain any confidential information.
The use of HTTPS is done when encoding of the information is required and uses the additional layers of SSL and TLS which is the Transport Layer Security. If the information is obtained by anyone during the transport, it is in an unreadable form because it requires the keys at both ends to be decoded into a form where it could be understood by the communicating computers.