Often times, website addresses are displayed in a format contrary to what we typically think of as the norm. Does the configuration of the letters really make a difference?
The answer is Yes! The different URLs are actually called application protocols and are the rules that are followed when you request, or click, on specific web pages or files from a website, a computer, or a server. Think of them like a set of procedures to be followed when doing a specific job; rules that make sure everyone understands what needs to be done in the most efficient manner. Internet protocols make sure the person requesting data can tell the server what it needs, and the server can respond accordingly.
Technically speaking, the standard protocol, or set of rules, used by most websites is HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is designed for communicating and transmitting structured text between systems. Usually, when a person views a website, their browser, and the server where the website is being hosted, are interacting using the HTTP standard.
That is, unless the content contains sensitive or private information or a level of additional security is needed. In that case, encryption is necessary, which is the process of encoding the text with security features so that it remains private. This changes HTTP to HTTPS. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure ensures that the website being viewed is protected; data cannot be changed, and private matters like credit card numbers or personal information remain safe. HTTPS ensures data integrity by incorporating cryptographic application layers into their protocols: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) provide communication security over the computer network. A site identity button, usually a padlock icon, will identify the level of security within the internet connection. Green is 100% secure and the information is protected!
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is another set of rules that relate to the uploading or downloading of information between computers via the internet. This set of protocols ensures that the file remains intact when sending or receiving the data. When you download a PDF file, for example, it is sent to your computer using an FTP link, allowing you to open the document and view the file as originally intended. Should the downloaded file contain sensitive material, there is a secured version, FTPS which, like HTTPS, provides encryption for privacy and security.
Taking the time to understand what you are sending, the sensitivity of those requests, and how best to communicate between systems and platforms will guarantee your transmissions are sent and received safely and securely while protecting the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data.