HTTPS and Website Security
Our lives have become heavily dominated by the Internet. When was the last time you visited a store to make a payment?
Most transactions can be completed online from the comfort of your home ranging from purchasing electricity to paying accounts and even ordering groceries.
Because of the nature of the transactions that we complete on a daily basis, businesses need to ensure that the information of their clients remains safe and secure. The first step to achieving this level of security is upgrading your website to HTTPS.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is the secure version of HTTP. Originally, HTTP was the primary protocol in place to send data between web browsers, like Chrome and a website.
When data is sent using HTTP, the information is separated into data packets which can be easily traced, especially over unsecure mediums like public WiFi, making your private information vulnerable to interception by third parties or hackers.
All communications that occur between a web browser and a website using HTTP occur in plain text. This means that the information can be openly read without any decryption.
This is where HTTPS comes into play: websites with SSL certificates installed on their servers keeps user data secure and prevents attackers from accessing that private information. This is done by means of encryption via a public-private key.
The SSL encryption contains the website’s public key. Any device attempting to communicate with the server will attempt to obtain this key to verify the server’s identity. Meanwhile, the private key is kept secret.
When data is transferred, the information is encrypted with the public key and can only be decrypted with the private key and vice versa.
Why Convert to HTTPS?
In an article written by Avira, it is reported that 20% of the 502 largest websites in the world have not yet transferred to HTTPS. With the amount and nature of the transactions been completed online daily, it is highly recommended to ensure maximum security for both users and your website.
HTTPS protects the integrity of the communication between a website and the user. By using HTTPS, the user knows that their data will not be at risk of interception during any transactions completed. Web browsers like Chrome now inform users when a website is unsecure – this can be bad for business as users will not want to interact with an unsecure platform.
When a website is using HTTPS it is not only credit card details, passwords or personal information that will be secure but also your movements. Unsecure websites do not protect the search footprints of the user leaving third parties open to “snooping” your surfing habits.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engines have now begun using HTTPS as a part of their ranking strategies. Websites that are still using HTTP are ranked lower than those with SSL certificates in place. An easy way to boost your SEO ranking is to make the secure move to HTTPS.
More and more internet users are browsing and completing transactions using their smartphones. According to Statista, mobile devices account for 50.81% of website traffic across the globe.
As a result, it is important to make your website as mobile-friendly as possible. This means factors like page loading speed are essential to remaining competitive.
Google has created AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) which optimises your website domain for smartphones in particular. Websites optimised with AMP also appear higher in the search results. The catch is, that AMP only works on websites using HTTPS. Even more reason to make the switch from HTTP.
Cloudflare and Website Security
Website security is important to allow secure browsing for visitors and to prevent exploitation by hackers as well as the implications thereof including reputation loss, poor SERP rankings and financial loss.
Cloudflare is one of the largest networks operating on the Internet. While Cloudflare is not a hosting provider, it does act as a massive VPN (Virtual Private Network) focused on increasing the performance and security of your website.
By analysing potential threats in visitor requests, Cloudflare is able to stop malicious traffic like hackers, attackers and bots before they reach your origin server. This is possible by reviewing:
- The visitor’s IP address,
- The resources requested,
- The frequency of the requests, and
- The firewall rules
DNS lookups of proxied Cloudflare subdomains returns Cloudflare IP addresses. This proxied traffic is reviewed by Cloudflare and forwarded to the website’s origin server while masking your origin IP to prevent a direct attack.
Moreover, visitors requesting access to your website content through Cloudflare will be able to access the content faster than attempting to access your website directly. This is due to the size of Cloudflare’s global network and extensive data centres.
In 2014, Cloudflare became the first company to offer SSL certificates for free enabling any website that signs up with Cloudflare services to move away from HTTP to HTTPS in one click.
Website security is becoming more and more important by the day. It’s important to do everything in your power to keep your website and users safe.
The Cloudflare network is only one option of many website security networks available but, considering that you get your SSL certificate installed for free along with all the other bells and whistles, it is an attractive security and performance enhancement option to look into.
Need help making the move from HTTP to HTTPS? Considering moving over to Cloudflare? Get in touch with the website development team at Online Innovations to resolve your website security matters.