What is HTTPS in Computer ? | Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure

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What is HTTPS in Computer

What is HTTPS?


HTTPS (also called HTTP over TLS, HTTP over SSL, and HTTP Secure) is a protocol for secure communication over a computer network which is widely used on the Internet. HTTPS consists of communication over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) within a connection encrypted by Transport Layer Security or its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer. The main motivation for HTTPS is authentication of the visited website and protection of the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data.

In its popular deployment on the internet, HTTPS provides authentication of the website and associated web server with which one is communicating, which protects against man-in-the-middle attacks. Additionally, it provides bidirectional encryption of communications between a client and server, which protects against eavesdropping and tampering with or forging the contents of the communication. In practice, this provides a reasonable guarantee that one is communicating with precisely the website that one intended to communicate with (as opposed to an impostor), as well as ensuring that the contents of communications between the user and site cannot be read or forged by any third party.

Historically, HTTPS connections were primarily used for payment transactions on the World Wide Web, e-mail and for sensitive transactions in corporate information systems. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, HTTPS began to see widespread use for protecting page authenticity on all types of websites, securing accounts and keeping user communications, identity and web browsing private.

Overview of HTTPS in Computer

What is HTTPS in Computer

The HTTPS uniform resource identifier (URI) scheme has identical syntax to the standard HTTP scheme, aside from its scheme token. However, HTTPS signals the browser to use an added encryption layer of SSL/TLS to protect the traffic. SSL/TLS is especially suited for HTTP since it can provide some protection even if only one side of the communication is authenticated. This is the case with HTTP transactions over the Internet, where typically only the server is authenticated (by the client examining the server's certificate).

HTTPS creates a secure channel over an insecure network. This ensures reasonable protection from eavesdroppers and man-in-the-middle attacks, provided that adequate cipher suites are used and that the server certificate is verified and trusted.

Because HTTPS piggybacks HTTP entirely on top of TLS, the entirety of the underlying HTTP protocol can be encrypted. This includes the request URL (which particular web page was requested), query parameters, headers, and cookies (which often contain identity information about the user). However, because host (website) addresses and port numbers are necessarily part of the underlying TCP/IP protocols, HTTPS cannot protect their disclosure. In practice this means that even on a correctly configured web server, eavesdroppers can infer the IP address and port number of the web server (sometimes even the domain name e.g. www.example.org, but not the rest of the URL) that one is communicating with as well as the amount (data transferred) and duration (length of session) of the communication, though not the content of the communication.

Web browsers know how to trust HTTPS websites based on certificate authorities that come pre-installed in their software. Certificate authorities (such as Symantec, Comodo, GoDaddy, and GlobalSign) are in this way being trusted by web browser creators to provide valid certificates. Therefore, a user should trust an HTTPS connection to a website if and only if all of the following are true:


  1. The user trusts that the browser software correctly implements HTTPS with correctly pre-installed certificate authorities.
  2. The user trusts the certificate authority to vouch only for legitimate websites.
  3. The website provides a valid certificate, which means it was signed by a trusted authority.
  4. The certificate correctly identifies the website (e.g., when the browser visits "https://example.com", the received certificate is properly for "example.com" and not some other entity).
  5. The user trusts that the protocol's encryption layer (SSL/TLS) is sufficiently secure against eavesdroppers.

HTTPS is especially important over insecure networks (such as public WiFi access points), as anyone on the same local network can packet sniff and discover sensitive information not protected by HTTPS. Additionally, many free to use and even paid for WLAN networks engage in packet injection in order to serve their own ads on webpages. However, this can be exploited maliciously in many ways, such as injecting malware onto webpages and stealing users' private information.

HTTPS is also very important for connections over the Tor anonymity network, as malicious Tor nodes can damage or alter the contents passing through them in an insecure fashion and inject malware into the connection. This is one reason why the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor project started the development of HTTPS Everywhere, which is included in the Tor Browser Bundle.

As more information is revealed about global mass surveillance and criminals stealing personal information, the use of HTTPS security on all websites is becoming increasingly important regardless of the type of Internet connection being used. While metadata about individual pages that a user visits is not sensitive, when combined together, they can reveal a lot about the user and compromise the user's privacy.


Deploying HTTPS also allows the use of SPDY/HTTP/2, that are new generations of HTTP, designed to reduce page load times and latency.

It is recommended to use HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) with HTTPS to protect users from man-in-the-middle attacks, especially SSL stripping.

HTTPS should not be confused with the little-used Secure HTTP (S-HTTP) specified in RFC 2660


Security in HTTPS in Computer


What is HTTPS in Computer


The security of HTTPS is that of the underlying TLS, which typically uses long-term public and private keys to generate a short term session key which is then used to encrypt the data flow between client and server. X.509 certificates are used to authenticate the server (and sometimes the client as well). As a consequence, certificate authorities and public key certificates are necessary to verify the relation between the certificate and its owner, as well as to generate, sign, and administer the validity of certificates. While this can be more beneficial than verifying the identities via a web of trust, the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures drew attention to certificate authorities as a potential weak point allowing man-in-the-middle attacks. An important property in this context is forward secrecy, which ensures that encrypted communications recorded in the past cannot be retrieved and decrypted should long-term secret keys or passwords be compromised in the future. Not all web servers provide forward secrecy.

A site must be completely hosted over HTTPS, without having part of its contents loaded over HTTP - for example, having scripts loaded insecurely - or the user will be vulnerable to some attacks and surveillance. Also having only a certain page that contains sensitive information (such as a log-in page) of a website loaded over HTTPS, while having the rest of the website loaded over plain HTTP, will expose the user to attacks. On a site that has sensitive information somewhere on it, every time that site is accessed with HTTP instead of HTTPS, the user, and the session will get exposed. Similarly, cookies on a site served through HTTPS have to have the secure attribute enabled.


Difference from HTTP

HTTPS URLs begin with "https://" and use port 443 by default, whereas HTTP URLs begin with "HTTP://" and use port 80 by default.

HTTP is not encrypted and is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle and eavesdropping attacks, which can let attackers gain access to website accounts and sensitive information, and modify webpages to inject malware or advertisements. HTTPS is designed to withstand such attacks and is considered secure against them (with the exception of older, deprecated versions of SSL).


HTTP operates at the highest layer of the TCP/IP model, the Application layer; as does the TLS security protocol (operating as a lower sublayer of the same layer), which encrypts an HTTP message prior to transmission and decrypts a message upon arrival. Strictly speaking, HTTPS is not a separate protocol but refers to the use of ordinary HTTP over an encrypted SSL/TLS connection.

Everything in the HTTPS message is encrypted, including the headers, and the request/response load. With the exception of the possible CCA cryptographic attack described in the limitations section below, the attacker can only know that a connection is taking place between the two parties and their domain names and IP addresses.

Limitations

What is HTTPS in Computer


SSL/TLS comes in two options, simple and mutual. The mutual version is more secure but requires the user to install a personal client certificate into their web browser in order to authenticate themselves.

Whatever strategy is used (simple or mutual), the level of protection strongly depends on the correctness of the implementation of the web browser and the server software and the actual cryptographic algorithms supported.

SSL/TLS does not prevent the entire site from being indexed using a web crawler, and in some cases, the URI of the encrypted resource can be inferred by knowing only the intercepted request/response size.[34] This allows an attacker to have access to the plaintext (the publicly available static content), and the encrypted text (the encrypted version of the static content), permitting a cryptographic attack.

Because TLS operates below HTTP and has no knowledge of higher-level protocols, TLS servers can only strictly present one certificate for a particular IP/port combination. This means that, in most cases, it is not feasible to use name-based virtual hosting with HTTPS. A solution called Server Name Indication (SNI) exists, which sends the hostname to the server before encrypting the connection, although many older browsers do not support this extension. Support for SNI is available since Firefox 2, Opera 8, Safari 2.1, Google Chrome 6, and Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista.


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