What is HTTPS and What is SSL Certificate?
HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an encrypted version of HTTP, which is the main protocol used for transferring data over the World Wide Web.
HTTPS protects the communication between your browser and server from being intercepted and tampered with by attackers. This provides confidentiality, integrity and authentication to the vast majority of today’s WWW traffic.
Any website that shows a lock icon in the address bar is using HTTPS.
Potential network attacks can happen anywhere with an untrusted router or ISP. Any public WiFi network is therefore vulnerable to such attacks. Fortunately, it seems that the general public is getting aware of this fact (increasing usage of VPNs).
However, the burden of making everyone’s browsing experience secure is and should be on webmasters.
That’s where the adoption of HTTPS comes into play.
HTTPS encrypts HTTP requests and responses so an intercepting attacker would only see random characters instead of credit card details, for example.
An analogy to how HTTPS works would be sending valuables in an indestructible locked combination box. Only the sending and receiving parties know the combination and if attackers get hold of it, they won’t get inside.
Now, a lot of things happen when a HTTPS connection is formed. Mainly, HTTPS relies on TLS (Transfer Layer Security) encryption to secure the connections.
How TLS certificates work
The only way to enable HTTPS on your website is to get a TLS certificate and install it on your server. You’ll also encounter it as an SSL or SSL/TLS certificate but don’t worry, it’s all the same thing. SSL is still widely used terminology even though we all technically use its successor TLS.
TLS certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities (CA). The role of CA is to be a trusted third-party in the client-server relationship. Basically, anyone can issue TLS certificates but only the publicly trusted CAs are supported by browsers.
You can check every website’s TLS certificate and its issuing CA by clicking on the lock icon in your browser’s address bar.
How HTTPS helps SEO
Pretty much all the benefits of HTTPS tie back to SEO:
- Lightweight ranking signal
- Better security and privacy
- Preserves referral data
- Enables the use of modern protocols that enhance security and site speed