It is a good question to ask which of these two technologies is better, HTTPS or VPN. Both technologies can be used to secure your connection. However, they have different uses, purposes, and capabilities. We need to know more about HTTPS and VPN and how they work.
HTTPS is HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. This protocol allows communication between the client (aka your browser) and the webserver. It protects data from phishing, man-in-the middle, and other data manipulation attacks, and ensures that the website is authentic.
Difference between HTTP and HTTPS
Let’s look at the differences between HTTPS and HTTP. This will help you understand the context. Although these two protocols are similar, HTTPS is not secure. HTTP was originally used by web browsers to communicate with websites. However, this method of transmitting data was susceptible to data manipulation and man in the middle attacks. This allowed for plain text data to be viewed. HTTPS was developed to protect personal and financial information as well as login credentials. It was the new standard for communication and is currently used by all reputable websites to protect visitors from being hacked.
How do you know if a website uses HTTPS?
You can easily tell if a website uses HTTPS by simply looking at its URL. It either begins with “http” (or “https”) This is indicated by the lock symbol beside the website address field in all modern browsers, such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.
What is HTTPS?
It is crucial to understand that HTTPS must be enabled on the server hosting the website. The website owner must set it up and then install a certificate to protect the connection. This protocol protects internet traffic between and to a website by using SSL/TLS encryption algorithms.
HTTPS uses Asymmetric Key Cryptography Principles to protect the integrity and authenticity the data being transferred. Once you establish a connection to a server, all internet traffic is encrypted. Only the website and browser can decrypt it. Data manipulation or editing could cause the connection to be broken. Also, the attacker would only be able to see the gibberish information.
The HTTPS security certificate cannot be installed on a website without permission of its owner. Regular users have no control over this certificate. Website visitors cannot choose to connect securely if the web server isn’t properly configured, unlike VPN. Let’s now take a look at the benefits of VPN.
What is a VPN?
A VPN encrypts your website connection in the same way as HTTPS. However, it does so in a different manner. VPN creates an encrypted VPN tunnel that routes your connection to the VPN server before connecting directly to the website. Your ISP and any third parties cannot see the encrypted data you have sent through VPN protocols.
VPN works at the system level. It encrypts all traffic coming from your device. This means that torrenting, DNS requests and other applications traffic will be encrypted and routed securely to a VPN server. A VPN not only encrypts your IP address but also masks your geographic location, making it harder for websites to determine who you are. This service can change your IP address and place to bypass geo-restricted content blocking and internet censorship.
HTTPS vs VPN: What’s the Difference?
Having a general overview of both HTTPS and VPN, let’s sum it up. Here’s a list of similarities and differences between HTTPS and VPN:
- HTTPS secures only the connection made from a browser, while VPN encrypts all internet traffic from the device (torrents, apps, downloads, DNS requests)
- HTTPS certificate is installed by a website owner on a server, therefore you have no control over it while having a VPN app you can choose to connect securely and privately
- VPN changes your IP, masks your location, can unblock content and circumvent censorship and, while HTTPS can not do any of those
- VPN hides your visited websites from third parties and ISP; HTTPS does not do that at all.
- Both encrypt the connection making it secure and protected from hackers, eavesdroppers and data manipulation attacks
- VPN together with HTTPS provides you double protection when accessing HTTPS websites, and when only VPN is used it secures HTTP connections
Which Is Better: HTTPS Or VPN?
Now when knowing about those two technologies to tell which is better should not be a question. The purpose for each of them is different and, in fact, they complement each other very well. HTTPS ensures the authenticity of a data and secure connection, while VPN is used as an additional layer of security on top, that also handles corner cases and other connections that are coming not only from your browser. This includes various application traffic such as gaming or torrenting, DNS requests and others.
There are still many websites that do not use security certificates and thus are vulnerable. In case there’s no HTTPS set up on the website using a VPN is the best idea to keep your connection private and protect your data from eavesdroppers.
As the differences explained, the question which is better should not be asked, since these two technologies are used for different purposes. Using both techs together gives you double protection – HTTPS ensures a connection and data is not modified, while VPN allows hiding the traffic from ISP, secure vulnerable connections and, by changing your IP and location, unblock any content.