HTTPS: Understanding the definition, the reasons for its widespread use and the benefits for users

In the world of the web, safety is a major issue for users and businesses alike.

That's why HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is now in place and has become something of an Internet standard.

But what exactly is it? Why is it so important and how did it become so widespread? In this article, our Web Agency takes a look at everything you need to know about this essential protocol.


HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure: a simple definition

HTTPS is the secure evolution of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), which is the communication protocol used on the web to exchange information between web servers and users' browsers.

The main objective of HTTPS is therefore offer a safer and more secure connection for those who surf the web.

To achieve this, HTTPS is based on a combination of the traditional HTTP protocol and another protocol called TLS (Transport Layer Security) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layers). The main difference is that all the data exchanged is encrypted and made unreadable by malicious third parties, thanks to the use of encryption keys.

SSL and TLS versions

Over time, these encryption protocols have evolved and several versions have been introduced. SSL provided the first security, but proved to be less secure than expected, with certain vulnerabilities exploited by hackers. This is why TLS is now the benchmark for ensure greater safety. There are currently three versions of TLS: 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2.

Why the widespread use of HTTPS? The main reasons

In recent years, HTTPS is becoming increasingly common on a large number of websitesThis is true for all businesses, whatever their size or the stakes involved in their online activities. Here are the main factors behind the rise of the secure protocol:

  1. Protecting sensitive user data With the rise in popularity of e-commerceIn order to access the Internet, social networks and other online services that require personal information, it is essential to offer a secure connection to prevent any theft of this data. HTTPS makes it possible to secure passwords, credit card numbers and postal and email addresses.
  2. Reassuring visitors In general, an HTTPS site inspires confidence. Thanks to SSL or TLS certificates, users can check that they are on the genuine site and not a clone designed to steal their identifiers. This confidence is essential for developing a business on the Internet, particularly in e-commerce.
  3. Improving natural referencing Google: Since 2014, Google has included HTTPS as a factor favouring the position of sites in its search results. So opting for a secure site can help improve your visibility and organic traffic.
  4. Promote exchanges between servers and APIs The secure protocol is also very useful for developers making requests to web servers or APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Encrypting these communications is essential to prevent malicious interception.

The web giants' offensive to make HTTPS the norm

Some major companies in the sector, such as GoogleApple and MozillaIn the meantime, a number of major internet service providers have put strategies in place to promote the widespread use of HTTPS.

For example, Google Chrome now indicates that a site not using this protocol is "not secure", encouraging administrators to make the transition to an encrypted connection. To simplify this step, many web hosts now offer free SSL certificates that are easy to set up thanks to collaboration with certification bodies such as Let's Encrypt.

How does HTTPS work in practice?

Now that you have a clearer idea of what HTTPS is and why it is so widespread, let's look at a few technical details to understand how it works:

  1. Public and private key generation The web server wishing to set up HTTPS will first generate two encryption keys. The public key is used to encrypt the data, while the private key is used to decrypt it.
  2. Issuing an SSL or TLS certificate To secure a site, the administrator must obtain a certificate from a certification body (CA). This certificate attests to the identity of the site owner and guarantees users that they are on the right website.
  3. Key exchange and data encryption processes When users connect to an HTTPS site, their browser and the web server exchange keys to agree on a unique encryption/decryption combination. All information circulating between the two parties will then be rendered unreadable without this "secret key".

The HTTPS protocol therefore offers a number of advantages that are essential for ensuring the security of Internet users and providing them with an optimal browsing experience.

And so, the widespread use of HTTPS seems essential to guarantee a safer and more reliable web for all.

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