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What is HTTPS, and how It relates to TLS and SSL? Does HTTPS really protect you against cyber threats?

Published: July 21, 2021 By Hamna Imran

HTTPS-path to secure webserver/web browser

Are you also one of those people who think that the green lock in the URL has superpowers to protect you from all the viruses?

Well, let me surprise you today and hurl a new perspective. Do yourself a favor by reading the expert advice.

 

What is HTTPS?

“Hyper text transfer protocol” is abbreviated as HTTPS. It is a secure HTTP extension. It is used by websites that install and configure SSL/TLS certificates to establish a secure connection with the server.

Encryption: Encrypt the transmitted data to protect it from spyware. This means that when users browse the site, no one can "eavesdrop" on their conversations, track their actions on different pages, or steal their information.

Data integrity: Data cannot be altered or damaged intentionally or in other ways without being discovered during transmission.

Authentication: Verify that your users are communicating with the website they want. Prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and build user confidence in other business interests.

What is HTTPS

Image Source - ahrefs.com


Difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

The Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) is a secure version of HTTP, which is the primary protocol for transferring data between a web browser and a website.HTTP is just a protocol, but it becomes encrypted when paired with TLS or transport layer security. HTTPS is encrypted to improve the security of data transmission. This is especially important when users submit sensitive information (such as logging into a bank account, email, or health insurance).

HTTP- Data Encryption is not implemented. It uses HTTP:// in its URL.

HTTPS- Bidirectional Data Encryption between client and server is provided. It has HTTPS:// in its URL.

Difference between HTTP and HTTPS

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How to identify whether a website is using HTTPS?

The websites that have access to user information should especially use HTTPS. In modern web browsers like Chrome, sites that don’t use HTTPS are differentiated based on a lock. On looking, you will find a green padlock in the URL bar to tell whether a website is secure.

Does HTTPS secure your website?


Why must HTTPS be used?

Web browsers find HTTPS crucial. Google Chrome labels non-HTTPS sites as "Not secure", this is just one of many good reasons to secure a website. Although some users may not know the benefits of SSL/TLS, modern browsers ensure that they know the reliability of the website anyway. Hence, website using HTTPS is more trustworthy.


Working of HTTPS

HTTPS uses encryption protocols to encrypt communications. Thie protocol was previously called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), but now it is named Transport Layer Security(TLS). This protocol protects communications with so-called asymmetric public key infrastructure. The security system uses two different keys to encrypt the communication between the two parties.

How HTTPS secures the connection on the webserver

Image Source – thesslstore.com

  • Private key: This key is controlled by the website owner and is kept confidential if the reader may suspect it. This key is located on the Web server and is used to decrypt information encrypted with the public key.
  • Public key: Anyone who wants to communicate securely with the server can use this key. The only private key can decrypt the information encrypted with the public key.

What is SSL/TLS?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is the sort of digital security that allows a website and a web browser to communicate with encryption. TLS has completely replaced SSL technology.

SSL was originally developed to protect the connection between customers and online businesses. Unfortunately, as the value of seemingly mundane personal information and surfing habits increases, this is a signal that cybercriminals are expanding their networks to include non-profit websites.

SSL-A digital security for encrypted communication

Image Source – gigamon.com

TLS represents transport layer security and guarantees the confidentiality of data, just like SSL. Since SSL is no longer used, this is the correct term people should use.

There are many reasons why TLS is easier to trust, including because TLS is designed to close known SSL security vulnerabilities and support more reliable and secure algorithms and cipher suites.

TLS- A more secure approach for security then SSL

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HTTPS relationship with TLS and SSL.

When configuring an SSL certificate, configure it to transmit data via HTTPS. These two technologies go hand in hand, and you cannot use one without the other. The URL is prefixed with HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) or HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This actually determines how the data you send and receive will be transmitted.

SSL/TLS and HTTPS relationship

Image Source - hostinger.com

This means that another way to determine whether a site uses an SSL certificate is to look at the URL and see if it contains HTTP or HTTPS. This is because HTTPS connections require an SSL certificate to work.

HTTPS is based on the transmission of TLS/SSL certificates, which confirm the identity of a particular provider. When a user connects to a website, it sends its SSL certificate and the public key needed to initiate a secure session. Two computers, a client and a server, then go through a process called SSL/TLS handshake, which is a series of two-way communications used to establish a secure connection.


Does HTTPS protect you from attacks?

Well, I would say it makes an effort, but it could not protect data. HTTPS uses SSL/TLS to encrypt communications to make sure the information shared among browsers and sites is not accessible to third parties. It also confirms who the website server is to avoid fraud.

But Enabling HTTPS access does not, unfortunately, secure your website against hackers and their malware code. HTTPS only secures the data channel between the browser and the website so that information exchanged between the two is private.

If you see the green lock in the web browser windows, it means that this specific website has been issued a TLS certificate, and a pair of crypto keys have been generated. In this case, the communication between you and this website will be encrypted. 

The difference between HTTPS and HTTPS in your browser is that the last "S" here means encrypted connection. A green lock and the issued certificate don’t guarantee the site being safe. A website allegedly doing phishing readily gets a certificate and encrypts all traffic that flows between you and it.

A green lock ensures that no one else can spy on the data you enter. But your password can still be stolen by the site itself if it's fake.

Phishers make use of this extensively. Phishlabs claims that one-fourth of phishing attacks are carried on HTTPS websites. Sadly, more than 80 percent of users believe that the mere presence of a little green lock and the word “Secure” next to the URL means the site is safe, and they don’t think twice before entering their data.

An encrypted connection does not always mean a safe site.

To secure your website, you will need to be aware of its vulnerabilities. I have listed some possible attacks below.

Potential threats

  • ON-PATH ATTACKER:

You can think of an attacker as a fraudulent postman sitting at the post office and intercepting letters between two people. The postal worker can read private messages and even edit the content of these emails before forwarding them to the recipient.

  • BRUTE-FORCE ATTACK:

Brute force attacks are usually executed by scripts or robots that target the login page of a website.

  • BUFFER OVERFLOW:

Buffer overflow rarely occurs when software overflows the buffer's storage capacity, resulting in adjacent memory locations being overwritten.

I suggest you also look at our article on protecting personal data, intended to educate you on common data breaches.

Expert advice on being safe from attacks while using HTTPS

  • Always be critical: No matter how safe the site seems at first glance, Never enter passwords, banking credentials, or any other personal information on the site unless you are sure it's AUTHENTIC. To check, find the domain name very carefully; the name of a fake site might differ by only one character.
  • Do not click on random links which lead to websites: Always analyze what a particular site is offering, whether it looks suspicious, and whether you really need to enter your information on it.
  • Make sure your devices are well protected: Kaspersky Internet Security detects scams in spite of the websites appearing safe by comparing URLs with a large database of phishing sites.

Conclusion

Data transmitted over the Internet is not only vulnerable to passive attacks but also vulnerable to active attacks. It's not just e-commerce sites that are being criticized. In addition to passwords and credit card information, cybercriminals are also interested in obtaining apparently mundane information, which indicates that HTTPS is a reliable solution that provides reliable data encryption and decryption so that confidential information will not fall into intrusion in the wrong hands. But this is not foolproof. To ensure the security of communications in your network. You need to increase network transparency and the ability to decrypt all data traffic at once and forward it to appropriate monitoring and security tools.

👉 FAQs:

  1. What port is HTTPS?

The web browsing port, Port 443, is primarily used for HTTPS services. It provides encryption and transport over secure ports.

  1. What is the default TCP port for HTTPS?

The Port 443

  1. Which protocol does HTTPS use to offer greater security in Web transactions?

HTTPS uses SSL to offer greater security during Web transactions. SSL uses public-key cryptography.

Use the information and guidelines in this article for yourself, your loved ones, or your company, and you will be largely protected from the most effective penetration threats of 2021.

If you have any experience with HTTPS or any queries regarding it, then leave comments below the article.

Tags: 
Security
Author
Hamna Imran
Cyber Security student and keen learner, writing articles for several other websites.

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