If you’ve been using the internet for a long time you’ll remember the days when you had to type in HTTP:// before typing in your web address. This is known as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it’s still there, but browsers will now enter the prefix for you, which makes it much easier and more convenient to browse the internet and enter the website that you’re looking for.
But, you may have noticed that websites now also have an HTTPS protocol. Not only is this different from the standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol that you’re used to seeing, but it also plays a vital role in the security and privacy of the website that you’re accessing. It’s something that you should understand — but don’t worry, by the end of this article, you’ll not only understand why the HTTPS protocol is important but also how you can keep your device secure and private at all times while browsing the internet.
Keep reading to make sure that the websites you use are secure and that the information you type into them is always kept safe!
What is HTTPS?
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the communication between a web client and a web server. You might never even pay attention to it, but it’s crucial to our browsing experience. The downside to the standard HTTP protocol is that it’s not encrypted. This means that anyone can see what you do when you visit a website — in theory at least!
So, if you’re dealing with sensitive information such as your banking details or login credentials, there is a high risk of your data being stolen by a cybercriminal that’s snooping around — and that’s why the HTTPS protocol was created. As the world moved further into connectivity and internet users had to enter important data into websites, HTTPS was brought into play to create more secure websites that don’t leave the users at risk.
What makes a website with an HTTPS protocol more secure is the process they need to go through. Websites need to be checked by a Certificate Authority (CA) before they can be given their HTTPS protocol. Your browser will let you know if a website is secured with a certificate from a CA with a green padlock next to the website’s address.
HTTPS websites are protected by SLS (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security). These services offer end-to-end encryption, which is something that you may have seen being implemented into instant messaging apps such as Whatsapp. End-to-end encryption simply means that any messages and data (traffic) between a device and a website or an app are encrypted.
The HTTPS Everywhere Solution
All of us have busy lives and we often don’t have the time to check whether a website has a secure HTTPS protocol or not. When you’re browsing the internet, you want to be able to jump from one website to another with ease, and having to constantly check your address bar is not ideal.
Luckily though, there’s a solution to this problem! HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that was created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in collaboration with the Tor Project. With this extension installed on your browser, every website you visit will automatically be checked for an HTTPS protocol so you don’t have to.
HTPPSEverywhere will ensure that you only visit secure websites, and you’ll be given a clear warning about visiting any HTTP websites. In addition, if there’s a website that has a secure HTTPS version, the extension will automatically redirect you to it.
How to Ensure Your Device is Always Secure
If you’re worried about the privacy and security of your device, you should invest in a premium VPN such as Surfshark or NordVPN. A virtual private network or VPN is a cybersecurity tool that has grown in popularity in recent years.
A VPN will encrypt your internet connection, masking anything you do on the internet whether the website has HTTPS encryption or not. VPN encryptions are so powerful that not even your internet service provider or the government can keep track of your internet traffic while you’re online. This makes a VPN the ultimate tool for privacy and security.\
It’s especially important to use a VPN when you’re connected to a public WiFi hotspot such as the ones found at restaurants, hotels, and airports. These connection points might be cheap and convenient, but unfortunately, they often use unsecured networks. While you’re connected to an unsecured network, skilled cybercriminals can listen in on your device while it sends and receives data through the internet. This digital eavesdropping allows hackers to steal your data — anything from login credentials to personal information and even banking details are at risk of being stolen.
VPNs have another incredibly useful feature; it’s the feature that has made them so popular in recent years. VPNs will allow you to change your virtual location by connecting your device to a secure global server in another country or city around the world. Your VPN will hide your device’s real IP address and it will adopt the IP address of the server that you connected to. Doing so will trick websites into thinking that you are accessing them from elsewhere. This feature has made VPNs popular as it allows users to bypass geo-blocking restrictions, and internet censorship, get discounts on subscription fees, and can even be used to find cheaper flights and accommodation while travelling.
It’s crucial to invest in premium VPNs because they offer much more than free VPNs. Free VPNs often come with severe drawbacks that will impact your browsing experience. If you’re using a free VPN, you can expect to have slower connection speeds, more ads, less security, fewer global servers to choose from, and even daily data limits to compete with. Some VPNs have now also started implementing features similar to what HTTPS Everywhere does, which means that as long as your VPN is active, you’ll be warned about accessing HTTP protocol websites.