What is HTTPS and why does it keep you safe?

What is HTTPS and why does it keep you safe?

Posted on Jul 17, 2015
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What is https and why does it keep you safe? 

 

HTTPS is an acronym that stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, ie it’s the secure version of http. In some situations, it’s also referred to as HTTP over TLS or HTTP over SSL. TLS is Transport Layer Security and SSL means Secure Socket Layer. While this explains what the words mean, it doesn’t make it any clearer what https actually does for you. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. It makes it more difficult for hackers, the NSA, and others to track users as the data isn’t being transmitted in plain-text format, which is much easier to eavesdrop on. This is something that was brought to the world’s attention by Edward Snowden who’s whistle-blowing on the scale of NSA surveillance caused repercussions in relations around the globe, which The Guardian explains in a really great way. 

It’s easy to tell if a site is secure as the URL starts with https:// instead of http://.  

HTPPS in Google search bar

Or you need to look for the green padlock: 

 

Mobile search bar - Green padlock

Not every site needs to be secure (especially if you’re just browsing without entering data into the site). But there are certain times where you need to make sure the site is definitely secure. The prime example is when you’re entering payment information into a site. If it isn’t showing as secure, we’d suggest that you leave the site without giving away any of your information – it won’t be safe. 

The choice on whether to use http or https may change in the near future as Google changed their algorithm last year to prioritise websites that are secure over those that aren’t. They called for the use of https everywhere to ensure that all data transmitted was secure, which has been the standard for Google’s own sites for a number of years. With Google’s undeniable prominence in the search market meaning that, for a modern company to survive, you need to rank on page 1 of Google, the decision on whether to use https on your website may not actually be so much of a choice.  

Why flick learning chose https 

Data security is important and being able to have confidence in that security is invaluable because even harmless metadata can end up compromising your privacy. Examples of this harmless metadata might include the location you were in the last time you checked your email or the date/time you called someone. It won’t identify you personally but it builds up a picture of what activities you carry out, when and where. Also, when Google say that one of the top 5 things they’d recommend for small businesses' websites is https, who are we to disagree? They know their stuff after all! 

This might seem like a random topic for an e-learning company to be talking about but security is one of the many things that you need to consider when reviewing e-learning courses or systems.  For a run-down of the other various bits and pieces you need to consider, download our free LMS planning guide.

So now that you're down with the online lingo, why not try out online training?

 

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