It makes little sense to compare HTTPS and VPN but we are going to try it out as one of our readers asked us to do so. You see, both technologies are important means of internet protection, and they can be used together with no conflict of any kind. Let us first describe HTTPS and then move to VPN.
HTTPS is short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and it ensures the data passing between your computer and a website is encrypted. It provides authentication of the website and its associated web server, which protects against so-called “man in the middle” attacks. Moreover, HTTPS encrypts communications between a client and server, ensuring the communications between a user and website cannot be read or forged by any third-party reader. This, in case you wonder, prevents even your ISP and the VPN company from reading the data passing between the website and the user.
HTTPS is set by the website owner, with the user having no control over it. You may have noticed that some websites use both HTTP and HTTPS, and when you see that – always opt for HTTPS. The fact that you’re on a secure, HTTPS website is clearly marked with a lock icon on in the browser (URL) bar.
On the other hand, a VPN is set up by the user and works on every website or application. A VPN does that by creating a secure tunnel between a computer and the Internet.
Like HTTPS, a VPN prevents third parties — including your ISP — from seeing your online activity. And this works whether you’re accessing a secure (HTTPS) or insecure (HTTP) website.
Furthermore, a VPN provides users with the ability to appear to be anywhere they choose, thus allowing them to overcome location-based access restrictions. This, in case you wonder, is important for accessing some streaming websites and bypassing restrictions.
HTTPS and VPN can work together
There is no conflict between the two technologies; while HTTPS will encrypt information on one website, a VPN will do the same across the Internet — even when you’re not in your web browser.
Also, HTTPS won’t hide your location or offer any privacy protection. Plus — and unlike VPN — it will not offer any defense against internet censorship.
On the other hand, a VPN will go beyond encrypting communications by also hiding your IP address and location, and providing you access to the Internet in its entirety. You should still be careful what you’re sharing on social media websites and where you’re entering your credit card information. At the end of the day, the best defense against scammers is your brain – so you use it well.
Finally, it’s worth adding that both VPN and HTTPS tend to use similar encryption techniques under the hood, namely TLS.