Difference between HTTP and HTTPS

Updated on February 24, 2018

With the possibilities of shopping and paying our bills online, we can’t help but feel a little iffy whether it’s safe to use or not. So what can you do? For starters, you can learn the differences between HTTP and HTTPS.


HTTP displayed on a non-secure website

HTTP – Known as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP is how browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, and others communicate with the web server. It is an application layer protocol that focuses on how information is presented to the user of the computer. It is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web (open source information space that can be accessed via the internet). In other words, it is used as a way to share information on the internet. You can see them being displayed as prefixes to every URL on the World Wide Web.

The HTTP was invented in 1989 by the ingenuity of Tim Berners-Lee (English computer scientist who implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP and server via the internet) and his team at CERN. Originally, it was only able to do one method, GET, which would request an html page from a server. While this was considered to be the original HTTP, the first documented one was the version HTTP V0.9, developed in 1991. In 1995, Dave Raggett (computer specialist with a major role in implementing the World Wide Web) wanted to expand the protocol with extended operations, negotiation, richer meta-information, with a security protocol and did so with the help of the HTTP Working Group (HTTP WG). It was then officially introduced and recognized as HTTP V1.0 in 1996.

HTTPS displayed in Google Chrome, highlighted in color green to be noticeable

HTTPS – Known as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, HTTP over TLS (Transport Layer Security), and HTTP over SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), HTTPS is a protocol that is used for secure communications between the web server and a computer network. It actually has the same use as the HTTP, but is secure. It is a widely used protocol for online payments, personal information inquiries and other sensitive transactions. This is because it provides an authentication of the website and the associated web server with the user network. This serves as a protection for clients and the server from any forms of tampering, eavesdropping, and even forgery of the contents of the communication. In simpler terms, it is to ensure that the communication between you and the website is secure.

Originally, HTTPS was used with the SSL protocol, but was soon replaced with TLS. Netscape Communications was the first to create HTTPS for its own web browser, the Netscape Navigator. 


What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? While both act as a protocol for communications between a web server and a network, there is one major difference that one should know about.

While their definitions clearly state that both act as a way of exchanging or transferring information between a web server and user networks (through browsers), the HTTPS is a secure one. With the HTTP, third parties are able to see and even tamper with the communications between you and the website. Take note though, while it is indeed possible, it doesn’t mean that all of your web browsing activities involve a third party, and not all third parties are harmful. Just keep in mind, if you’re dealing with transactions involving payment and/or sensitive information, it’s important to make sure you are in the correct website with the HTTPS in it.

In terms of speed or performance, using HTTP has the upper hand since HTTPS requires a few extra steps that one can call a ‘handshake’ between you and the site to make it secure. Although the HTTP may have the advantage in terms of speed, it is rather negligible with only a slight difference (it will depend on computer performance, server load, distance from server, and of course connection speed).

Comparison Chart

A means for a web server to communicate with browsersA means for a web server to communicate with browsers
Not secureSecure
Developed in 1989Developed in 1994
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