Introduction – What is HTTPS?
HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol. HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. A very thin line demarcates the former and the later. The chief difference between the two is the parameter of security.
In the present times, when companies around the world are increasingly investing in critical security architecture, migration to https is becoming the need of the hour. It has to be mentioned that in the age of digitization, if data is to be hailed as the new oil, then its security is to be deemed as the new currency.
The aim of this document is to educate the reader in a lucid but holistic way about the road of migrating your site to HTTPS.
Why SSL certificate is necessary?
The primary aim of an SSL certificate is that it establishes an encrypted link between browser window and the webserver. Different SSL certificates come at a different price. However, they work under the same principle.
The entry-level SSLs are known as Domain SSLs. These are only an email verification away. They offer services like HTTPS browsing with a padlock but lack in-depth verification process. They’re ideal for startups.
Now let us talk about Organization SSLs. These require a prolonged verification process and the most prominent one being the company ownership. Due to strenuous checks, they take longer to be issued, around two to three business days. The feature of this type of certificate is that the company name and domain name appear in the browser.
Lastly, it is time to talk about Extended Validation SSLs. The classic feature of such types of certificates is that these allow you to use a “green browser” bar. These are rather costly than Domain or Organization SSLs and involve a verification process to check the company credentials much more thoroughly and in greater detail.
The installation process
After the purchase of the certificate, the next step in the process is its approval. By using Domain SSL, verification is instant after the domains user verifies his email. If we talk about shared hosting here, it has to be mentioned that it provides a hassle-free installation process and there is absolutely no need to worry about the intricacies of procedure.
Playing safe by backing up your files
As data and other critical information hold the base of any business structure, it should always be the safest option to back up your files whenever you are trying to make major changes to your website. Again, if we talk about shared hosting, it has to be mentioned in its first place that some of them do provide a managed back up service.
Switching to a secure version
Switching from HTTP to https indicates the shift to a relatively secure version. The best thing about this shift is the increased level of security it brings along for the contents of the website. However, one prime thing that needs to be checked before this switchover is the revision of all those links, which mention HTTP. The revision has to be done beforehand so that all the internal links mentioning Http now start showing https.
Diagnosis of coding
Diversion of external traffic
There may be some of the links, which serve the purpose of diverting external traffic of a website to your own web site. Let us explain this through an example. A digital marketing behemoth is running an extensive campaign through social media websites, which include facebook and twitter. It is definitely a case in the point that the aggressive campaigns maybe contain links that direct the external traffic to a website. Now what we need to ensure is that all those links, which contain Http, are changed to https. When this happens, a perfect synchronization is established between any external links and the host website itself.
Learning about 301 redirect
It is quite natural that you may not have heard about a 301 redirect link before. Let us keep it as simple as possible. A 301 redirect is a method that enables us to redirect traffic from one web page (URL) to another. It is actually a quick redirection of traffic because your website is now switching from HTTP to HTTPS.
It is actually the time to warn you beforehand about ignoring the creation of a 301 redirect link. There may be hundreds and thousands of websites that your search engine optimization team may have created over a period of time. Now if a redirect link is not created, there may occur a possible error when a user tries to click on any external link.
A confusion that may arise at this point in time is the question whether all the websites need to be changed individually to https for the redirection process. The answer is “no” because such a method would seem practically impossible. The correct way to go about this is to alter the configuration settings of the type of webserver you use. Let us suppose that you have been using a windows server for a very long time. So, a simple method to create a 301 Redirect link would be to update the web configuration file.
The usage of the content delivery network
Let us first see what a cloud cdn is all about and then go on to explain its usage. A cloud cdn is not a local but a global network of connected servers that stores copies of your web pages on different servers so that all your content related files are presented by the server to the person browsing those files. One of the best examples of a content delivery network is cloudfare. The next thing to do is to link your secure sockets layer to the requisite content delivery network. If you are still wondering what all this would do, let us quickly resolve this confusion. This will serve the purpose of not only protecting your website from malware but will also provide an additional protection layer from getting hacked. Moreover, it will also optimize the speed of the website.
Updating the toolkit
In times of tradition, that is, the time when businesses were offline, it would be normally be associated with other subsidiary services. To exemplify these services, image the ticket vending machine and packaging services that are associated with a business offline. Now that the businesses have transformed from top to bottom and invaded the digital market, the nature of subsidiary services has also changed. A range of these subsidiary services include email marketing, marketing automation, welcome message and landing page generators. Other services that are most common apart from these are related to email, exemplified by bulk email targeting. What needs to be done is to double check the software programs related to these services and list down any mentions pertaining to http. The last step would be to update http to https.
Don’t forget your google account
The last but not the final thing would be to update your Google accounts. To be more specific, we need to update the Analytics and Search Console. In Analytics, we will need to change the Default URL to HTTPS. Similarly, In Search Console, we will need to add the new site with HTTPS, thereby making the newer version much speedier as well as secure.
Motivation to migrate
By this time, you might well be aware of the benefits that accrue to both your business and website after you have decided to migrate to https. To make a quick motivation about the urgency to migrate to https, it has to be noted that google ranks those websites higher which are secured with https. In addition to this, mention should also be made about the hassle free and a simple procedure to migrate. And if you are now starting to think about the costs involved in the process, let you be assured that the migration is going to be as cheap as possible.
Remarks of caution
Now is actually the appropriate time to throw caution to the winds. Google is now following the policy of marking all websites which carry any type of sensitive data sets and information as non-secure. So, imagine the scenario of your website getting listed as non-secure while using http. However, when we use https, I means that you are not only keeping it safe but also keeping it secure.
A concluding note
A switch over from http to https is what actually the need of the hour is. This switch over has to be done as soon as possible. Though it may seem to be quite a strenuous task at first instance, in the long run, this would lead to multiple benefits. Keeping the benefits in mind, the caravan de migrantes should now begin!