What Is HTTPS?

Often used for highly confidential online transactions — like online shopping and order forms — Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, meaning the data sent between your browser and the site you’re connected to is encrypted. Your browser will let you know the site is secure by displaying a padlock in the address bar.

When you see the “S” in HTTPS, that’s how you know your data is “Secure.”

How Does HTTPS Work?

HTTPS pages typically use either SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security), both of which use an asymmetric Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) system. Asymmetric systems use a public and a private key, where the private key is used to decode anything encrypted by the public key.

Always keep your private key strictly protected. (For web sites, the private key remains securely ensconced on the web server.) The public key, however, can be distributed to anyone who needs to decrypt info that your private key encrypted.

What Is an HTTPS certificate?

When you request an HTTPS connection to a webpage, your browser and the site will initiate a “SSL handshake,” which generates a unique secure connection.

When a trusted SSL digital certificate is in place, a padlock will be displayed in the browser address bar. With an Extended Validation Certificate, some portion of the address bar will turn green.

Why Is an SSL Certificate Required?

All communications sent over regular HTTP connections are in “plain text” and can be read by any hacker who breaks into the connection between your browser and the web site — a huge problem if you’re sending personal or credit card info. With an HTTPS connection, all communications are securely encrypted, so even a hacker who broke into the connection wouldn’t be able decrypt the data.

Why Use HTTPS?

With HTTPS, you can be assured:

  • Customer information, like credit card numbers, is encrypted and cannot be intercepted.
  • Visitors can verify you are a registered business and that you own the domain.
  • Customers are more likely to trust and complete purchases from sites that use HTTPS.