HTTP or HyperText Transfer Protocol is a protocol which is a cornerstone of data communication on the web. Hypertext documents include hyperlinks to other resources that the user can easily access. HTTP is a request-response protocol where a user, typically a browser sends a request to a server which sends a response based on the request. HTTP is designed to permit intermediate elements such as caching servers and HTTP proxies. HTTPS is designed to be a connection orientated protocol based on TCP however the protocol can be adapted to use “unreliable” protocols such as UDP.
Technipages Explains HTTP
HTTP was initially developed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 (although it as 1991 by the time the first fully documented version was released) while working as a fellow at CERN, its purpose was to be a conglomeration of a number of different protocols and technologies to allow easy communication over the internet which he had invented earlier that year. Since then the protocol has been redescribed multiple times to increase efficiency, while the older versions have never been deprecated they have slowly fallen out of use.
The HTTP protocol defines a number of status codes of which the server must include one in its response, the status code people are most likely to be familiar with is 404 which means “resource not found”.
The HTTP protocol is by definition plain text, the contents of all communications can be listened to by a third party. An encryption layer can be added on top with TLS (older versions were called SSL) this secure variant is called HTTPS and provides confidentiality, data integrity, and host identification through the use of encryption. HTTP2 released in 2015 requires the use of a certain level of encryption or higher although uptake has been slow as legacy devices don’t necessarily support the newer version of the HTTP protocol.
Common Uses of HTTP
- The server did not respond to my HTTP request.
- HTTP is an insecure protocol.
- Plain text defines HTTP protocols, while HTTPS protocols have an added encryption layer.
Common Misuses of HTTP
- The HTTP page didn’t load.