The worldwide web is over four decades old, and it keeps getting bigger and stronger. What started at CERN, the “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire,” or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in 1989 now hosts billions of websites spanning across various industries. Tim Berners-Lee is credited for the web’s foundation. In 1990, he developed HTTP, HTML, a server, and the very first website.

Four years later, Netscape Communications, led by Marc Andreessen, created the HTTPS for its Netscape Navigator web browser. These two innovations have influenced how web users patronize the internet. And they have collectively become a ranking factor for websites based on authenticity and other parameters. Here are a few differences between HTTPS and HTTP you need to know.

What is HTTPS?

Many people have used both https vs http interchangeably. So, it’s essential to start with a full definition of the “HTTPS” acronym. The HTTPS acronym stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. You’re likely to see the five-letter word before many web links but may not know its use. It uses Transmission Control Protocol to send and receive data within a connection encrypted over port 443.

HTTPS deploys a public key to decrypt data for web users. The public key’s deployment helps the Certificate Authority (CA) to certify websites using the SSL certificate. To a large extent, this is what makes HTTPS a secure version of other less-secure websites. After the certification process is complete, you’ll see a green padlock in the address bar showing that the site can be trusted.

The HTTPS certification has become crucial for online businesses. According to a GlobalSign survey, about 84 percent of modern shoppers refrain from transacting with an online business if its security is not certified. HTTPS affords users the security and privacy to entrust their credit card details and personal data into the hands of businesses for seamless transactions.

What is HTTP?

HTTP stands for the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Every HTTP website address begins with the prefix “http://,” allowing users to send and receive data after the traditional TCP handshake. The TCP sends a response message after every HTTP request. Today, HTTP has about nine different request methods with significant improvements in caching, better compression support, and cross-origin resource sharing (CORS). However, it still remains less reliable than HTTPS.

What are the differences between HTTPS and HTTP?

Comparing HTTPS and HTTP innovations involves several differences, including security, encryption, and the URL. Security is a top priority. As a brand, your position on HTTP vs HTTPS determines how serious you are about your customers’ security. HTTPS facilitates data transfer and other website efforts through secure connections. On the other hand, HTTP has two main types of messages—requests and responses. The former is the product of user interactions with web properties, while the latter acts as HTTP responses to HTTP requests. If a user clicks on a hyperlink, the browser will send multiple HTTP GET requests for the content that appears on the resultant page. These requests go to an origin or a proxy cabin server to trigger the appropriate response.

But HTTP requests flow across the internet in plaintext, and that’s where the security problem lies. Anyone monitoring the connection can read these. That’s how people intercept and leverage users’ data for fraudulent activities. The best way to tackle this security problem is to use HTTPS. Unlike HTTP, HTTPS allows for data transfer in an encrypted text through a TLS certificate. HTTPS seeks to protect privacy and integrity while data is in transit, eliminating eavesdropping, tampering, and other forms of malicious data interception.

The most simple way to distinguish between an HTTPS website and an HTTP platform is to check the URL prefix. You’ll see “https://” for the former and “http://” for the latter. Knowing the differences can help you make the right choices on the web.