The Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is an extension of the standard protocol. It is useful for secure communication over a computer network and is widely used in the internet today. This option encrypts data using transport layer security much like the secure sockets layer did in the past.
The motivation for using HTTPS involves the authentication of an accessed website while providing privacy and integrity to the data exchange that happens in transit. This structure helps to prevent hacking attempts from entities that intercept the information between the giver and receiver. It provides the average online user a reasonable assurance that they can communicate with others without interference while reducing the risk of a scam occurring.
HTTPS was initially used for payment transactions over the internet and sensitive communications or transactions in corporate data systems. It has become the primary option for users of all types since 2018 when it outnumbered the standard HTTP for the first time. If you’re looking at this option, then these are the pros and cons you will want to review.
List of the Pros of HTTPS
1. HTTPS provides better security for consumers.
The primary reason to consider HTTPS for a website is the encryption and improved security that it provides the average user. Data remains confidential and secure because only your browser and the server you’re using knows how to decrypt the traffic. Because security has been a ranking mechanism for some search engines since 2014, you could actually see a push in the amount of traffic you receive if you convert your site from HTTP. You might see a drop in traffic initially after the transition, but it doesn’t take long to restore your numbers.
If you don’t have SSL in place, then you can’t guarantee data integrity in any way. Someone could intercept the information going to or from the webserver or change it if they wanted to do so.
2. It automatically generates trust for the consumer.
If you receive an EV certificate for your website that shows a green address bar in the visitor’s browser, then you are providing that person with an enhanced level of trust. That individual knows that you take security seriously, which means you’ll likely treat their transaction in the same way. That appreciation doesn’t transform into profits on every occasion, but you’ll have more chances to close a deal with HTTPS in place than if you decide to go without it. Most people today will not provide credit card information unless this option is available, so you must either use it or transfer to a payment provider, such as PayPal, that can give you this option.
3. Using HTTPS provides a better verification process for visitors.
When you install an SSL certificate on your server, then it guarantees to every visitor that you are the company or individual with whom they wish to interact. If you’re trying to do business online, this “warranty” is essential to the sales funnel. Unless you’re working on a platform like Fiverr that acts like a third-party in some ways by publishing consumer reviews, the HTTPS is the only way to verify the authenticity of a site compared to one that is trying to scam someone for personal information. Without its presence in some way, the only transactions that have value to the consumer will be in the content they can consume.
4. HTTPS is not going to rob your website of the resources that it needs.
There is a myth about HTTPS that it will slow down your website dramatically so that your bounce rate climbs high. If you set up your SSL correctly, then your server will respond in familiar ways. This issue is a throwback to the time around 2010 when this technology became commonplace on the internet. Most modern servers can process the information with enough speed to give you a loading time of one second or less under most circumstances.
You won’t need to worry about latencies on your other website pages either. This issue used to appear around 2010 as well, but it does not happen today unless you’re using an outdated server that hasn’t seen an update in the last decade.
5. There are multiple SSL certificates from which to choose.
Since SSL is the protocol that HTTPS uses, you’ll need to install the certificate on your website before you can take advantage of all of the benefits listed in this guide. There are currently three different types that are available for you to use.
- Domain validation is the cheapest and most basic option, covering encryption only as a way to provide visitors with better security.
- Organization validation costs a little more, but it also includes authentication – which proves useful when you need to collect personal information from your visitors as part of a transaction.
- Extended validation is the best option for large sites where critical personal information is necessary.
You have choices with organization validation to have 128, 256, or 2048 encryption options. Extended validation comes with 2048-bit encryption as standard – and it is the green bar option that you’ll want to have.
6. HTTPS interception is still possible to provide consumer safety.
Although HTTPS interception is a controversial benefit to consider, there are several benefits to look at with this key point. It can help end-users detect malware downloads, allowing the network proxy to see the binaries and documents downloaded, preventing an accidental execute file from being clicked. It can detect command control traffic to exotic IP addresses or domains to call back the infrastructure of an attacker to prevent how some sites can blend with normal traffic. It could detect exfiltration and bypass the weaknesses of the SSL certificate at the same time too.
7. It allows for the creation of sandbox environments.
Infogressive provides managed security services for their customers and notes that firewalls can make a difference. When they work with customers on encryption inspection, then they recommend SSL inspection in a firewall platform. This advantage interoperates and shares threat intelligence with tools that stop viruses and malware. It enables the management of security in a holistic way, eliminating the blind spots that can sometimes develop in spots on the network infrastructure.
List of the Cons of HTTPS
1. Your website speed might decrease with HTTPS.
Because there is more complexity in the communication that a visitor’s browser must interpret, the speed of website access can slow down for some users. You must go through the process of encrypting and decrypting the data, which means there are extra steps that users must go through to complete a transaction or access content. Although the differences are negligible for most sites, it could be a disadvantage for SEO specialists who are fighting for highly competitive keywords and the organic traffic it provides.
2. Administrators must go through more steps to keep their site active.
Even though the benefits of HTTPS are monumental, it can be downright annoying to generate keys all of the time to provide visitors with these advantages. You will need to install intermediate certificates at times to ensure that access to your site is maintained throughout the entire experience. You’ll have an additional cost to consider as well since you need to purchase SSL certificates for your website.
The costs are variable in this area depending on the provider you choose for your site. Thawte is usually one of the top providers since you receive it within 48 hours and gain a free site seal you can place on your site. A standard SSL is $149 per year, while a web server option is $249 per year.
3. You can encounter some mixed modes when you start managing your SSL.
If the SSL implementation does occur as planned when you transition to HTTPS, then you might still have some files served by the traditional protocol instead. Visitors to your website will receive warning messages in this circumstance, letting them know that some of the information isn’t protected. Platforms like Webroot SecureAnywhere might even block browser access to sites in this situation until they are resolved. It is an outcome that can be confusing for some visitors – and it could drive some of your traffic away as well.
4. There could be issues with proxy caching with your SSL and HTTPS.
Another issue to consider if you’re transitioning to HTTPS is that a complex proxy caching system could encounter problems. Any encrypted data will not be cached, which means you will need to add a server that can handle the encryption before it reaches the caching server in your setup. It is an excellent way to ensure that your visitor’s data receives the encryption they want when accessing your website, but it comes at yet another cost that you’ll need to consider as you progress with your online presence.
This disadvantage applies most often when visitors are using an older browser on their system. If someone was still using IE 6, then your HTTPS move would stop them from interacting with your site in meaningful ways.
5. It might require changes to your mobile platforms.
When SSL first came to life a few years ago, it was meant for web-based applications through the traditional access point – a laptop or desktop computer. Smartphone technologies have come a long way in the past decade, which means more people than ever before are accessing websites using their tablets or mobile devices instead. This transition in traffic can be a pain to get set up when you want to use HTTPS. It might require you to change some of your in-house software, purchase modules from app vendors, or other unanticipated infrastructure changes. It’s still the best way to go if you want to give consumers confidence in your UX, but the time and money it takes to set everything up can be more than what some companies can manage.
6. It won’t make a difference for some websites.
If you operate a large website, then switching over to HTTPS is an expense that makes sense. Having tens of thousands of visitors each month that have trust in what you do can create a lot of potential transactions for your sales funnel. If your website is just starting out today and you only have a couple of pages to protect, then you’re not going to see much of a difference in your traffic levels. It will have a bigger impact as you scale your site upward in the future, but it might be an expense that doesn’t make sense right away.
If all you have is a blog, and the only thing you require from your visitors is to enter their email address to join a list, then HTTPS for security reasons is probably not necessary. It only becomes a necessity when you exchange important personal or payment information. Even then, you could place the HTTPS on the specific pages where protection is necessary.
7. You will need to wait for your SSL certificate to get started.
If you work with GoDaddy with a domain validation certificate, then you might receive issuance in a few minutes. That’s a good choice to consider if you have an internal or testing site to validate or you’re not involved in e-commerce. Most organization validation certificates are issued in 24-48 hours. If you want the green bar option where user trust is a paramount part of the visitor experience, then you’ll need to wait between 3-5 days to receive this option. If you’re in a hurry to get started or working on a tight deadline, then you’ll need to plan for this issue in advance.
8. Not all SSL certificate companies install the product for you.
If you’re not technically savvy, then you’ll want to work with an HTTPS provider that will install the SSL certificate for you. Companies like HostGator provide a series of services and different warranty levels that let you use the type of security needed for your specific site. Then you can pay them a specific fee to install the product for your domain so that you don’t need to do the work. If you are a managed dedicated server owner on some hosting platforms, then this option might even be free.
The process of installing certificates will vary from host to host, so make sure that your preferred provider will do so. If you’re stuck trying to do the work yourself, then you might find it necessary to hire someone to do the work for you.
9. You’ll need to update all of your internal links.
If you have a mature website that you’re transitioning to HTTPS, then you will need to replace all of your old internal links with the updated URL. That extra “S” can be a real pain if there are thousands of pages that you need to update. That’s why it is helpful to use relative URLs when building links so that the entire address is required as specification. If you are using absolute links, then each one must be corrected. This disadvantage is one of the primary reasons that some websites see an immediate and severe drop in traffic.
You’ll need to update your images and other links for the tags that are on your site. It helps to use protocol URLs whenever possible to avoid problems. If you use a CDN, then you’ll want to make sure that it supports the change as well. Not all of them do.
Google told everyone in 2014 that they preferred to work with websites that were using HTTPS. It was more than an encouragement to use this security option as a way to boost a site’s SEO campaign. Their goal is to create an internet experience where everyone is running SSL certificates that protect the integrity of the data that travels between points.
HTTPS does more than stop hackers from access information that your visitors don’t want them to have. It reinforces the trust someone has for your site in subtle ways. Sites that provide this option provide green text and a lock icon next to the URL as a visual signal of confidence. Using standard HTTP can create a red X, an unlocked icon, and other warning signals that subtly communicate that the information is unsafe.
The pros and cons of HTTPS let everyone browse the internet in relative safely while having confidence in payment transactions and other forms of sensitive information. It won’t solve all of our data security issues, but this process is an effective start to that process.
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