Whenever you access a website, it begin with “HTTP” or “HTTPS“. It’s just an “S” the most, however it makes a biggest difference and it is necessary to know the specifications to find out if the navigation, in particular webpage is safe or not.
HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) is a protocol, i.e. a certain rule that lets your computer to exchange data with a server that hosts a website. This means once connected using this protocol, machines can send and receive any text content – the codes that result in the web page accessed via the web browser.
The issue with HTTP is that in Wi-Fi networks or other favorable connections to phishing (wire fraud) and hackers, malicious people can cross the road and intercept data transmitted relatively ease. Hence, the HTTP connection is considered as insecure.
Whereas, the HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure), which inserts a layer of protection in data transmission between your computer system and the web server. On sites with HTTPS address, communication is encrypted, tremendously increasing the data security. It is as if client and web server talked a language that only the two understood, making it difficult to intercept the information.
To know if you are browsing a website with encryption, just check the address bar, where you can identify the HTTPS letters and usually a lock symbol denoting security. Additionally, you should see a banner with the name of the website as the secure connection also identifies websites through your certificate.
Protecting Yourself via HTTPS
You actually rely on which websites provide support for such type of connection to take advantage of the encoding. But, in many cases, the secure connection is available however, must be enabled manually, if you want more privacy.
This is the case of Facebook, which added the HTTPS connection in 2011. By default, users of the social network access the website via HTTP, however this can be changed easily via your Profile settings. Other social networks like Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ also have access via HTTPS. Google, by the way, includes HTTPS up in their research in the search engine.
What’s important is to keep in mind that any online service that requires to enter a password to log-in or mainly send credit card data, need HTTPS connection. Due to this reason, Banks today, use HTTPs protocol to ensure the privacy of customers’ data.
Always try to use HTTPS on websites that provide the feature, and be careful when entering your information to unsecured pages, since there are significant chances that hackers may access information and passwords, using data for different purposes.
The easiest way to enable HTTPS is with extensions such as “HTTPS Everywhere” which available for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera. The application puts into action automatically encrypted connection on sites wherever possible. With this, the user avoids looking and enabling the safe option on every page you visit.
Precautions to be Taken
Remember that HTTPS is not perfect. Even if you have this type of connection active, stay tuned for fraud attempts. There are cases of phishing that take you to sites with HTTPS but actually is the wrong page – they create a secure connection between you and a fake server. In some situations, some websites mimic the lock symbol to attract unsuspecting, or even change the website icon that you believe is safe.
In the end, all the tips on safe navigation still apply. But since you know that the accessed website is true, always try to choose a secure connection. Although not foolproof, HTTPS is certainly safer than a conventional protocol.