What methods does HTTPS use that make it more secure than HTTP?
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an encrypted version of the standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) used to transfer data over the Internet. The “S” in HTTPS stands for “secure” and refers to the use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocols to encrypt data as it is transmitted between a user’s web browser and a website’s server.
Key features of HTTPS
One of the key features of HTTPS is the use of encryption to protect the privacy and integrity of data being transmitted. When a user connects to an HTTPS website, the website’s server presents the user’s web browser with a digital certificate that verifies the website’s identity. The web browser then generates a shared secret key that it and the server can use to encrypt and decrypt data being transmitted between them. This encryption helps protect against eavesdropping and tampering of data in transit, as anyone intercepting the data would only see encrypted gibberish that they would not be able to interpret.
Another important feature of HTTPS is authentication. By verifying the identity of the website’s server through the use of a digital certificate, HTTPS provides assurance to the user that they are communicating with the intended website and not an impostor. This helps protect against “man-in-the-middle” attacks, where a malicious third-party intercepts and manipulates the data being transmitted between a user and a website.
Ensuring data integrity
In addition to encryption and authentication, HTTPS also provides a mechanism for ensuring data integrity. This means that data transmitted over HTTPS can be verified as having not been altered or corrupted during transit. This helps prevent tampering of data, such as in the case of a malicious attacker modifying the contents of a web page before it is displayed to the user.
Protects against session hijacking
Another security feature of HTTPS is that it protects against “session hijacking.” In a session hijacking attack, a malicious attacker intercepts an ongoing session between a user and a website, such as an online shopping session. By taking over the session, the attacker can gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or perform actions on behalf of the user. HTTPS helps prevent session hijacking by using encryption and unique session IDs to ensure that the user who initiated it can only access each session.
Protection against “cross-site scripting” (XSS) attacks
Finally, HTTPS also provides protection against “cross-site scripting” (XSS) attacks. XSS attacks involve a malicious attacker injecting malicious code into a website, which can then be executed by unsuspecting users who visit the website. By encrypting data transmitted between the user’s web browser and the website’s server, HTTPS helps prevent XSS attacks as the injected code would be encrypted and not be executed by the user’s web browser.
In conclusion, HTTPS provides a number of important security features that make it a more secure alternative to HTTP. Through the use of encryption, authentication, data integrity, session protection, and XSS protection, HTTPS helps protect against a variety of threats to the privacy and security of data transmitted over the internet. As more and more sensitive information is transmitted online, the use of HTTPS is becoming increasingly important to help ensure the privacy and security of users’ personal and financial information.
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