What to Know about HTTPS and Online Security

A zoom in on a browser search bar.
Written by: Connections Marketing

HTTP – or HyperText Transfer Protocol – was created decades ago as a computer language that would pass information between servers and web browsers. Today, folks are so accustomed to seeing either the HTTP or HTTPS designation in their web browsers that it’s easy to overlook the distinction.

However, if you’re a digital marketer or otherwise involved in web development, it helps to know the difference, both for your own online security and when working on websites or other online platforms of clients you want to protect.

Extra Layer of Internet Privacy

When someone sees the lock icon and HTTPS before a web address, they know that the information they’re submitting to the website is protected and therefore less likely to be seen by hackers or other nefarious online forces. It also means the identity of the pages you visit beyond the top level of a website should be concealed from internet service providers, adding a layer of privacy that helps people feel more comfortable when surfing the web.

From a business standpoint, this distinction is crucial. For example, online shoppers will be less likely to hand their credit card information to a website with HTTP, knowing their information could be intercepted. As online privacy concerns grow, brands should be doing everything they can to make clients and prospects feel as protected as possible.

SSL/TLS Certification, HTTPS and Online Security

How does HTTPS add an extra layer of protection? Because it includes a protocol known as SSL or TSL, designed to encrypt data and protect communications security. When a website uses only HTTP, the data and activities on it are exposed, making online users vulnerable.

Using HTTPS provides data with three layers of protection:

  1. Encryption – This means the data will be scrambled to protect it from unauthorized users.
  2. Authentication – Authentication prevents websites from deceiving users by mimicking other sites.
  3. Data integrity – As well as being more secure, the data will be more consistent and accurate.

Google’s Role in Prioritizing HTTPS Over HTTP Websites

HTTPS websites have been around almost as long as ones beginning with HTTP. But it wasn’t until the 2010s, when Google began encouraging HTTPS, that the difference gained broader attention. Soon, the search engine announced it was going to start showing a preference for HTTPS sites in search results. In some cases, pop-up notifications on Chrome began dissuading additional online users from learning about their products and services.

What does all of this mean for non-HTTPS websites today? FIrst and foremost, by not adding that extra layer of visible security, they risk losing traffic to their websites, and along with it brand recognition and business.

Does an HTTPS Site Help Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

Google may have altered its protocol since then. But we need to recognize that websites that collect sensitive, personal or financial data such as passwords or credit card and payment information are generally expected to be HTTPS. This especially goes for sites with:

  • Sensitive personal data
  • Payment forms
  • Form fills
  • Login information

Getting a SSL or TLS certificate to Use HTTPS with Your Domain Name

To include HTTPS with a domain name, a SSL or TLS certificate must be installed on the website. This process can cost hundreds of dollars. Some web hosting providers offer HTTPS security, but there are other ways to request a certificate and install it – and then renew it when necessary.

A Digital Marketing Agency Can Design & Create a More Secure Website

Maintaining the integrity of online tools and websites is one of the most important reasons that growing brands are trusting digital marketing agencies with some or all of their marketing responsibilities. A lot goes into creating and securing effective websites, and as rules and norms evolve, it just makes sense for more organizations to outsource these tasks so they can stay focused on growing their business. Just be sure that whoever you partner with has the experience and bandwidth to manage your content creation, social media, and key digital strategies that will help you evolve safely while reaching your core audience.

At Connections Marketing, we specialize in creating comprehensive marketing campaigns that include web design and development. Reach out online or give us a call so we can discuss what solutions make the most sense for you to achieve your core business goals while staying on budget.

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