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How to Migrate from HTTP to HTTPS

July 10, 2018 No Comments

Featured article by Jamsheer, Independent Technology Author

Though HTTPS was around us for a long time and a huge number of people have been utilizing this; it was not until the year 2014 that it became an imperative part of our website design. The reason behind the popularity was the Heartbleed bug that was giving sleepless nights to website owners. The bug was creating chaos by spying on traffic flow across the SSL or transport layer security (TLS). The intent behind the bug’s introduction was to get hands over sensitive data.

But, fortunately the bug was caught red handed and destroyed within no time, thanks to the intelligence of our web analysts and researchers who came up with techniques to ensure that it never rises again. After the incident, web developers around the world became more conscious about information security transferred over the web. And, where looking for means to ensure that user information is encrypted to prevent any kind of misuse because of exposure from hacking.

When it comes to the web development India scenario, where there are a lot of potential users and the internet population is just getting matured, many leading and companies have the opinion that they double checking on the website quality assurance so that the data is encrypted before transmission to ensure safety of information. In January 2017, Google Chrome started issuing notifications across the address bar for websites that didn’t consider it necessary to encrypt sensitive data, including forms.

So, after the hullabaloo created by the Heartbleed bug, websites started taking precautions – in the form of SSL certificates – to ensure the safety of information.

Now, it is quite apparent that whenever you create your website, it would be excellent to think over the lines of using HTTPS rather than HTTP because most browsers support the transmission only across a connection that is doomed to be secure.

For people who are not developing a website from scratch, it should be noted that you get it converted to HTTPS so that all browsers support your website.

It is not a hectic task to get this done as Google has even published their own guide on securing your website with HTTPS and you can go through it for the step-by-step details. But, fact is that less than 0.1% of websites are only secured with the so-called HTTPS encryption.

You need not worry about the expenses as let’s encrypt as well as many other CDNs and website hosts are providing security certificates free of cost.

Here are a few reasons why moving to HTTPS should be on your agenda next:

With HTTPS, data being transmitted will be secured using TLS, which comes with three protection layers as noted below:

- Encryption layer, where the transmitted data is encrypted to ensure that it is secure and cannot be hacked. This helps in ensuring that no one can get their hands on the data while the user browses through the site or page.

- Data integrity layer, which prevents any kind of modification or corruption of data during data transfer that might be planned without being detected.

- Authentication layer, provides the facility to your users to communicate with the website preventing man-in-the-middle attacks while building trust.

Also, you can prevent the injection of ads by AT&T into the hotspots with HTTPS.

Yes, data is being secured with HTTPS though your website might be still vulnerable to downgrade attacks, poodle, logjam, SSL or TLS vulnerabilities, DDOS attacks, brute force attacks and even software vulnerabilities.

Here are the steps for switching from HTTP to HTTPS:

First, start with a test server…

It is important to start with a test server, as it will help you to identify any existing loopholes and work in progress without any delay. You might be wondering what if I don’t start with a test server? Yes, it is ok to start without the test server, but still you can implement this, as it is a good practice.

1. Browse through the current website to explore the status of the website as it will help you to make comparisons in the future once you have accomplished the migration from HTTP to HTTPS.

2. Before you start out to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS, it would be a better practice to read a lot about the migration process from any available documentation on CDN or server. You might encounter certain CDN or server issues when migrating to HTTPS, but you can find online help.

3. Choose web hosting provider that provide you with an authentic security certificate that can be installed on the server. This may vary on the provider and server setup that you opt.

4. Ensure that the URL parameter settings. Now you are ready to go live.

5. Now, you need to update the default URL in your analytics platform to ensure the tracking of HTTPS will happen appropriately.

6. Examine whether your social share counts have been updated.

7. Also, update email or paid media marketing automation campaigns.

8. Examine whether the tools, such as the heatmaps, keyword trackers and A/B testing software are updated.

9. References should be updated in your content – which is easy, you can use the search and replace option in the database. You need to make changes for the references to internal links that will use HTTPS.

10. Updates to template references are mandatory. This can be done using Notepad or GIT options. But, before you do this, ensure that the references made to images, links or scripts are using HTTPS.

11. When you are using CMS, the updates on canonical tags need not be checked as this will be taken care of automatically. But, during the migration from HTTP to HTTPS, you need to check it out to avoid complications.

12. If your website is using tags, such as OG or the href lang tags, please ensure that these are updated. If you are using CMS, this will be automatically taken care of, but while transition you need to ensure that it is done.

13. In order to ensure that there is no insecure content or no breaks or internal site and forms missing, it is a great idea to update the plugins or modules and add-ons as well.

14. Examine the CMS-specific settings to explore whether anything needs to be changed.

15. Crawl through the site to ensure that you are not missing out any links or whether anything is broken.

16. Use only those external scripts that are capable of supporting HTTPS.

17. When HTTPS are implemented, ensure that these come with redirects, which mainly depends on the server and configuration.

18. If there are any old redirects, get it updated. Also, ensure that you get back all your lost links from the redirects.

19. Crawl across your old URLs to track down broken redirects or redirect chains.

20. Sitemaps need to be updated to implement HTTPS versions of your URLs.

21. Get your robots.txt file update before including your new sitemap.

22. Facilitate HSTS for making website loading faster and swifter.

23. Enable HTTP/2 support.

24. Introduce the HTTPS version of your site across all the versions of search engines in the webmaster tools, which you will be using to load the new sitemap.

25. Ensure that the disavow file is updated.

26. Ensure that you are double checking all the steps before finally the migration is complete.

About the Author

Jamsheer is a director and the technical lead at Acodez – a digital marketing and web development India based company. He has more than 6 years of rich experience in app and software development. His extensive knowledge and expertise in building apps and managing back-end services help the company to develop efficient softwares, popular apps and dynamic websites for its clients with a high-end interaction between the server and users. He also does researches and shares informative blogs on web security and other such topics.

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