HTTPS

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), the secure update of HTTP, uses an authentication process to encrypt the connection between web browsers (or clients) and servers. This process overlays Transport Layer Security (TLS), or what used to be SSL, onto HTTP.

How does HTTPS work?

TLS uses symmetric cryptography to transfer data between a browser and a website. This involves a handshake process that verifies the server’s digital certificate, which provides evidence it can provide a reliable public key. A certificate authority verifies that the server is trustworthy by signing their digital certificate. Once the server has been authenticated, it generates a random session key that encrypts the data transfer between server and browser for the duration of the connection, or session.

HTTPS can also include mutual authentication, where the client or user is required to verify their identity as well. This is important when accessing business accounts or files that should only be viewed by specific users. HTTPS has become so important that some browsers, notably Google Chrome, notify users directly if a browser only uses HTTP. Even so, not all websites (even ones that would benefit from extra security) have adopted HTTPS. The protocol is gaining popularity, even among websites that don’t process transactions or sensitive information.

What is forward secrecy?

Forward secrecy is a feature of HTTPS that further increases security. In the past, an encryption key would be used for multiple browser sessions. If a hacker finally managed to crack the encryption key, which though difficult is possible, they’d have access to all of the web sessions or transactions that used that key. But forward secrecy ensures that every session has its own key. Perfect forward secrecy generates a new encryption key for every new online transaction, even if that’s only a page refresh or a new message within an app.

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a contributor for websites such as Webopedia.com and Enterprise Storage Forum. She writes about information technology security, networking, and data storage. Jenna lives in Nashville, TN.

Top Articles

The Complete List of 1500+ Common Text Abbreviations & Acronyms

From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 SMS, online chat, and text abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Includes Top...

Windows Operating System History & Versions

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

Generations of Computers (1st to 5th)

Reviewed by Web Webster Learn about each of the 5 generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that...

Supply Chain Management Software

Supply chain management (SCM) software tracks products as they move through...

Microsoft Paint

Microsoft Paint is a raster-based graphic design application exclusively available on...

Human Capital Management (HCM)...

Human capital management (HCM) software is a digital repository of human...