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The Difference Between http: and https:

Helen from PA writes:

On some links it starts with http: while others start with https: Can you explain what the difference is?

This is quite an important question when considering how to keep your sensitive information secure. 

We are all becoming more and more aware of how potentially insecure our sensitive information is on the web, which makes it important to know what to look out for.  Stories about major corporations being hacked into, or Government agencies being under threat from cyber-attacks may leave us feeling as though we have little hope of keeping our data under wraps.

HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol; this basically means that it is the language that the internet uses in order to communicate.  This language can be intercepted and the contents can be copied, which makes it useless for transmitting data that is sensitive.

The extra “S” stands for secure and means that this language will be encrypted when it is sent along the internet to its destination, allowing the user to be confident that no malicious third party will be able to intercept its content.


An example of a secure web page

The difference between HTTP and HTTPS, therefore, is that one is open for potentially everyone to see and the other is not.  When you need to enter your credit card details on a web page you should be able to see that the start of the address has changed to HTTPS, if it has not you should not enter your details.

Whilst knowing the difference between HTTP and HTTPS will help you understand whether or not a site is secure it will not be able to tell you if the web site is a scam and it’s always advisable to conduct a general Google search to find some positive or indeed negative reviews beforehand.

~Matthew McGuire