HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is the secure version of the hypertext transfer protocol, which is the foundation of data communication over the internet. Commonly used by websites to protect the privacy and integrity of the data exchanged with visitors, it provides an extra layer of security for online transactions, making it harder for malicious actors to access information travelling between two sites.
A website using HTTPS will appear as "https" rather than "http" in the address bar. You may also notice a padlock icon ahead of the address or a green browser address bar, which tells you the webpages are secure and that the connection is encrypted.
When you navigate to a website, your browser securely encrypts any information you send or receive, such as passwords, credit card details, and other confidential information. Encryption helps protect the data as it travels across the internet by scrambling it in such a way that only the intended recipient can understand it.
HTTPS is essential if you are doing any type of form submission or processing any kind of sensitive data. Without doing so, anyone in between you and the server you’re connecting to can see what you’re sending and receiving. This is especially important if you’re submitting information such as credit card details or social security numbers.
To ensure your website is setup with HTTPS, you will need to have an SSL certificate installed on the server. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and it is used to encryp the data sent between a user and a server. Any data submitted on a website containing an SSL certificate will be encrypted so that even if someone were to intercept the data, they wouldn't be able to read or understand it.
An SSL Certificate will also generally provide a trust-based seal on a website, which can help instill trust with users and encourage them to complete transactions. SSL Certificates come in different levels of validation, from a basic Domain Validation certificate, which is often used for non-sensitive purposes, to Organization Validation and Extended Validation (EV SSL), which is reserved for very confidential information like banking and government websites.
Once you have an SSL certificate installed, you will need to make sure that you're redirecting traffic from "http" to "https" on your website. This means that if a user types in your domain name without https, they will be automatically forwarded to the https version and all the pages on your website will start with https. This will usually involve changing some settings on the server and editing any links and resources within your website that begin with http.
In order to ensure your website is both secure and user friendly, it is recommended that you adopt the following best practices:
• Secure your website using HTTPS with a valid SSL certificate
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Ensure that any information being sent or received on your website is encrypted, and that the connection is secure, so that even if malicious actors were to intercept that information, they wouldn't be able to read or understand it.
• Use HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)
HSTS tells browsers to always use HTTPS on your website, regardless of whether the user visits your website directly or by clicking on a link. This helps ensure that any traffic to your website is always encrypted and secure.
• Ensure that all links and assets on your website use the https version
Once you have installed your SSL Certificate and configured your website to use https, make sure that all links and assets (such as images, scripts, and style sheets) are also using the https version.
• Enable Content Security Policy (CSP)
Content Security Policy is an added layer of security which helps protect against Cross Site Scripting attacks, and malicious code being injected into your website. It does this by specifying which types of content can be served on your website, and which domains are allowed to access that content.
• Use redirects to ensure all traffic uses https
To make sure all traffic to your website is encrypted and secure, you should use server-side redirects (such as 301 redirects) to send any user attempting to access a page on your website via http to the https version instead.
• Test your website regularly
Finally, it is important to regularly test your website to make sure it is secure and functioning correctly. This can be done by checking if the https protocol is being used correctly, and through vulnerability scanning to identify any possible security flaws which you may have not been aware of.