7 Common Myths About Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) You Shouldn’t Believe
1. IT DOESN’T AFFECT SEO
When analyzing the keywords and positions for which websites should rank, search engines place the greatest emphasis on content when calculating how websites should rank. However, HTTPS can still affect search engine optimization (SEO). If your website is powered by HTTPS, Google will favour it over your competitors’ HTTP websites. Google announced in 2014 that HTTPS websites would receive a slight boost in authority since they offer a safer and more secure experience for visitors.
While Bing doesn’t use it as a ranking factor, HTTPS may indirectly affect your website’s rankings with this popular search engine. Bing shows the URLs of indexed pages. With HTTPS powering it, Bing users will see the HTTPS prefix in your website’s indexed listings, which may prompt them to visit it. And after landing on your website, visitors may stay longer since it’s demonstrably secure. These engagement signals may compel Bing’s algorithm to rank your website higher.
2. IT’S EXPENSIVE
Another common HTTPS myth is that it’s expensive. Like most openly sold products and services, HTTPS varies in price. The cost of HTTPS is ultimately dependent upon the encryption certificate. Some encryption certificates cost over $3,000 per year, but most of them cost much less.
There are dozens of highly secure encryption certificates available for just $10 to $100 per year. Alternatively, you can opt for a free encryption certificate. Let’s Encrypt is a nonprofit CA that offers free encryption certificates at letsencrypt.org. It’s supported by nearly all major web hosting companies, making it a popular choice among webmasters.
3. IT’S ONLY NEEDED FOR PAYMENT PORTALS
If your website has a payment portal where visitors can submit their payment information, you’ll obviously want to protect their data by using HTTPS on it. With HTTPS, only your website can read the payment information submitted by visitors. If someone happens to eavesdrop on a visitor’s connection, they won’t able to read that visitor’s information. The visitor’s payment information will be encrypted, and only your website will have the key to decrypt it.
With that said, HTTPS is also useful for other pages besides payment portals. Visitors send and receive data on all sorts of pages. If a page uses HTTP, someone could intercept data between the page and its visitors. As a result, you should perform a complete migration by making all of your website’s pages HTTPS.
4. IT PROTECTS ALL DATA
HTTPS isn’t a silver bullet for protecting all of your website’s data from theft or unauthorized access. Rather, it only protects data as it travels in and out of your website. If a visitor downloads data from your website, HTTPS will encrypt the data so that only he or she can read it. If a visitor uploads data to your website, HTTPS will encrypt it as well. Stationary data, on the other hand, will remain unencrypted.
Stationary data is stored data that doesn’t move. You should still consider using HTTPS on your website; be sure to use other security measures for your website’s stationary data. While HTTPS can protect your website’s moving data as it’s downloaded or uploaded, it won’t protect the stationary data.
5. IT’S SLOWER THAN HTTP
Because it works over HTTP, many webmasters think HTTPS is slower than its counterpart. HTTPS essentially encapsulates a website’s HTTP connection with an encrypted layer. Even with its added layer of encryption, however, HTTPS isn’t slower than HTTP. Most websites, in fact, will experience a noticeable improvement in speed after upgrading to HTTPS.
HTTPS websites are faster than HTTP websites because they use HTTP/2 as their underlying protocol. Developed by the HTTP Working Group, it’s a newer and more advanced iteration of HTTP/1.1. HTTP/2 introduces multiplexing, header compression, server push and other technologies that make it faster than HTTP/1.1.
6. IT’S MORE DIFFICULT TO USE
You’ll probably be surprised to discover just how easy HTTPS is to use. All it takes is an encryption certificate that is installed on your website’s server. You can acquire an encryption certificate either from your web hosting provider or from a third-party certification authority (CA).
After activating the encryption certificate, you should be able to access your website by visiting the HTTPS version of its domain. You may want to redirect your website’s old URLs to the new HTTPS URLs as well, but HTTPS is a breeze to use nonetheless. It doesn’t require coding, nor does it require any additional software other than basic server software. Some web hosting companies will even install the encryption certificate on your behalf.
7. IT RELIES ON SSL ENCRYPTION
Encryption certificates for HTTPS are typically marketed as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. Most encryption certificates, though, use Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption rather than SSL. Whether an encryption certificate is marketed as SSL or TLS, it probably uses the latter form of encryption.
SSL is an older form of encryption for HTTPS. While SSL was launched in 1994, TLS didn’t appear until 2008. TLS is both faster and more secure than SSL. Furthermore, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has deprecated all major iterations of SSL due to known vulnerabilities. Web hosting companies and CAs tend to market their encryption certificates as SSL because it’s a familiar term that’s synonymous with HTTPS.
Visitors can access your website regardless of its protocol, but using HTTPS offers many advantages over using HTTP. It protects both your website’s data and your visitor’s data from eavesdropping, propels SEO improvement and promotes faster speeds. Considering that HTTPS is also free and easy to set up, it’s hard to justify not using it.