Comparing HTTPS vs. VPN can be quite confusing.
Both HTTPS and VPN are two different things, but each of them shares the same goal of ensuring online privacy and security to Internet users.
Therefore, you may be wondering, "What's the difference between HTTPS and VPN?," "Do I need to use a VPN with HTTPS?," and "Is HTTP over VPN secure?”
In this article, we will provide detailed answers to all of these questions.
But firstly, let's define what HTTPS and VPN actually are.
What Is HTTPS?
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, is an Internet connection protocol developed for secure data transfer between web browsers and websites.
It’s set up on a website by its owner and doesn’t require any installation or configuration on a user's side.
HTTPS is an advanced, secure version of its predecessor Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or simply HTTP.
Unlike HTTP, HTTPS comes with a TLS/SSL encryption certificate to allow secure online communication between your web browser and a website you visit.
It also performs authentication of both parties to prevent the possibility of MITM (Man-in-the-Middle) attacks and ensure that the two parties (browser and a website) are really who they claim to be.
Today, all reputable websites, regardless of the purpose they serve, use HTTPS to protect their users’ Internet connections from being monitored or exploited.
So if anybody will try to spy on your connection, for example, your network admin, he or she will only be able to see websites you visited and what pages on those websites you opened, but all the other delicate data like your account credentials or credit card information will remain invisible.
Therefore, it’s important to always verify whether a website you're landing on has HTTPS implemented.
All you need to do is to check your web browser’s address bar and see if it displays a green lock to the left of your website’s URL.
If yes, all is good, and you can browse the website with no worries; otherwise, you’d better avoid entering sensitive information on this site as it can easily be intercepted and stolen.
What Is A VPN?
All information that passes through that tunnel is encrypted and, thus, can’t be viewed or hijacked.
When you connect to a VPN, not only does it ciphers your browser traffic, but it also encrypts all other types of online traffic coming from and to your device.
Thus, all the data you transmit over the web is hidden from your Internet Service Provider and other third parties.
People use VPN services to protect sensitive information on the Internet and bypass censorship restrictions some countries and services impose.
In most cases, VPNs are installed manually by their users.
Comparing HTTPS vs. VPN: Which Is Better?
If you really care about your online privacy and security, you should use them both.
That's because together HTTPS and a VPN form a great pair, where each tool complements the other.
However, if you still want to know the differences between VPN vs. HTTPS, you can find them below:
- HTTPS has to be enabled on your browser and a website you visit (you don’t have to set it up manually on your browser as all modern browser support HTTPS). VPN client has to be manually installed by a user.
- HTTPS encrypts online traffic between your browser and a server of the website you visit. A virtual private network encrypts ALL traffic between your device and a VPN server (the Internet).
- A VPN changes your IP address, masks your digital identity, encrypts your Internet traffic, and allows you to bypass censorship restrictions. HTTPS does none of these things.
- HTTPS provides somewhat weaker encryption than that of a VPN and is more exposed to certain types of hacker attacks. However, HTTPS encrypts your browser data from the final endpoint to a website you visit, thereby protecting your connection from targeted MITM attacks, DNS manipulation, and phishing attempts.
Is HTTP Over VPN Secure?
Unfortunately, all the sensitive information you enter on an insecure website can still be monitored and stolen, even if you reroute your traffic through a VPN.
But that's not a disadvantage of a VPN, that's just the way HTTPS and VPN technologies work.
The thing is HTTPS provides end-to-encryption between the final endpoint (an exit web server) and a website you access.
A VPN encrypts the traffic you transmit up to the endpoint, which is a VPN server itself.
But still, on the way from that endpoint to the destination website, someone can intercept your sensitive data unless the website you visit is secured by HTTPS.
Therefore, it’s vital to use HTTPS and VPN together.
After all, there is no battle called HTTPS vs. VPN; there is rather a synergy between the two.