Port 80 (HTTP) vs. Port 443 (HTTPS): Major Difference to Know

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Port 80 (HTTP) vs. Port 443 (HTTPS)

Strong security is the primary distinction between Port 80 and Port 443. While Port 443 allows encrypted connections, Port 80 offers unencrypted connections.

According to Google’s transparency report, HTTPS (encrypted protocol) provides ninety-five percent of online traffic rather than HTTP (insecure protocol).

Port is used to manage all online traffic, encrypted and unencrypted. For HTTP and HTTPS protocols, respectively, ports 80 and 443 are often utilized.

This article covers the differences between HTTP (Port 80) and HTTPS (Port 443) and how to enable each on various operating systems.

What is a Port?

A port is a number connected to a particular protocol. It’s a network connection virtual communication endpoint. Software developed to run on devices and establish connections through the internet includes ports. A port enables a computer to differentiate between various forms of traffic and choose what action to do with data provided or received over the same network connection.

Computers receive immense quantities of data. Various port numbers, such as 80, 443, 21, 22, 53, 123, 179, etc., are assigned to specific ports. These numbers, commonly called port numbers, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigns to certain protocols or services.

For example, port 443 is used for secure HTTPS connections, while port 80 is usually used for HTTP traffic. Using unique port numbers, computers can efficiently manage and route data by the required protocol or service, ensuring a successful network connection.

What is Port 80 (HTTP)?

HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) is allocated port 80 and connects various users to an unsecured network. With the release of HTTP 0.9 in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced port 80. According to the documentation, Port 80 is the default when no port is defined for an HTTP connection. The web traffic that goes across the port is still unencrypted.

Since HTTPS has been developed, the majority of browsers as well as search engines now prefer port 443, (the default port for the HTTPS protocol). An HTTP server utilizes port 80 to transmit and receive page requests. Upon accessing any webpage, the browser sends a request to the server with the address sample.com:80. The World Wide Web is often accessible on port 80.

Recommended: HTTP Vs. HTTPS Differences

Since HTTP-enabled webpages lack security and transmit data in plain text, cybercriminals always target them. This port is associated with the Transfer Control Protocol (TCP), a data transfer protocol.

What is Port 443 (HTTPS)?

A secure version of HTTP, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), encrypts all data as it travels via port 443. This port provides a secure connection between the browser and the webpage and is also related to the TCP protocol.

Recommended: What is Port 443? A Technical Guide for HTTPS

Security is critical for every website since cybercrime is becoming more prevalent. Allowing the device to recognize the sort of service being requested, port 443 guides traffic in the correct direction. A TCP request is delivered via port 443 by a browser when it establishes a secure connection.

The server and browser decide on the connection settings and cipher suite before establishing a connection. HTTPS uses public and private keys to verify that data is encrypted while traveling between two endpoints.

Recommended: HTTP to HTTPS Migration – The Complete Guide

Data sniffing is not a concern for users who exchange information online. A padlock and HTTPS before the domain name are security indicators that appear when the browser is set to use HTTPS.

Additionally, the domain’s operating server will have its identity validated. The website loads over port 80 with a secure connection when port 443 is unavailable.

What’s the Main Difference Between Port 80 and 443? 

Port 443 is encrypted, but port 80 is not, which is a crucial difference between the two. Port 80 is, by default, unencrypted to access internet pages, as HTTP is an insecure form of communication.

Port 443 is secure because it uses HTTPS, a secure variant of port 80, to achieve the same objectives.

  • While Port 443 lets HTTPS protocol, meaning all data travels between the server and the browser remains encrypted, Port 80 allows HTTP protocol, meaning all data travels between the browser and the server in plain text.
  • As nearly all browsers have switched to HTTPS for security concerns, HTTP is becoming outdated. To increase internet security, Google launched “HTTPS Everywhere.”
  • In contrast to port 443, where information is difficult to sniff, attackers can rapidly sniff current conversations on port 80.
  • While HTTPS was released in 1994 RFC 1700, port 80 went into use in 1991 and was featured in the HTTP 0.9 specification.
  • While HTTPS-enabled webpages do not issue any warnings to users, HTTP webpages will cause browser warnings.
  • While data communication in plain text is possible via Port 80, data transfer via a secured network is possible via Port 443. Should a user attempt to access a non-HTTPS website, they will receive an insecure warning.

Procedure to Enable Ports 80 and 443 on Windows

A firewall protects you from online and local application risks, which also limits traffic. You must open a specific port on the firewall to permit limited traffic. Enabling ports 80 and 443 on Windows is described in the section below.

  • Initially, navigate through the Control Panel and look for System and Security, which should be shown on the left side of the box. You must click on the Windows Firewall there.
  • Now, choose the Advanced Settings option that is displayed on the left.
  • The “Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security” box will open, and you must right-click on “Inbound Rules” and select “New Rule“.
  • Select the “Next” button after checking the box next to “Port” in the New Inbound Rule Wizard box.
  • Select “Specific Local Port” next to the protocol you want to use—UDP or TCP. Click the “Next” button after entering the port in this field.
  • Click the “Next” option after selecting “Allow the connection“.
  • Finally, you should click the Finish button after writing down the name of a rule.

Procedure to Enable Port 80 and 443 on Mac

It is essential to understand that Mac OS X does not manage ports individually; ports are opened in response to requests from certain apps or services.

The methods below should be used by most users of the OS X firewall by default to allow inbound connections for applications.

  • Navigate to Security & Privacy > Firewall > Firewall Options in System Preferences.
  • Tap Add.
  • Click Add after selecting an application from the Applications folder.
  • Ensure incoming connections are selected in the option next to the program.
  • Select OK.

On OS X, you must use Terminal to open a particular port. For OS X 10.10, the pfctl command must be used. A particular port might be opened using the ipfw command in the previous version.

  • Launch the Terminal software.
  • To stop the currently active packet filter, use the Sudo pfctl -d command.
  • Utilize a nano text editor to access the packet filter configuration file:
  • Sudo nano /etc/pf.conf

You can use the command below default configurations to build a customized rule for any port, such as 80. It indicates that you are accepting inbound TCP traffic to your system from any machine without doing any checks.

  • Send inet proto TCP via any port 80 no state to any port.
  • Hit the Ctrl-x key to close the Nano text editor. Then, when you press Y, the file with the same name has been saved.
  • Reload the firewall’s configuration using the previously modified file at this point.
  • pfctl -f /etc/pf.conf – sudo

Finally, use the command sudo pfctl -E to restart the firewall.

Use sudo nano /etc/pf.conf to open the port during system startup, and then append sudo pfctl -vnf /etc/pf.conf to this pf.conf file.

Procedure to Enable Port 80 and 443 on Linux

Initially, use the netstat or ss command to verify the opened port.

netstat -lntu OR ss –lntu

Use the following command on any port to enable TCP connections.

netstat -na | grep :443

ss -na | grep:443

Procedure to Enable Ports 80 and 443 on Ubuntu

Use the command sudo ufw allow 80 to enable a port on the Ubuntu firewall.

Procedure to Enable Port 80 and 443 on CentOS

Users using CentOS should execute the following command:

firewall-cmd –add-port=80/tcp –permanent

When considering the use of technology, it is a good idea to look at security vulnerabilities. It is necessary to consider vulnerabilities even though port 80 and port 443 are now in considerable use.

Security Concerns/Vulnerabilities with HTTPS

Despite the excellent level of security that HTTPS offers its customers, there are still particular precautions to take. Remember the following four vulnerabilities while using HTTPS:

SSL Stripping: 

To decode the data, an attacker can attempt to revert the HTTPS connection to HTTP.

Recommended: What is SSL Stripping and How to Stop SSL Stripping Attack?

Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM):

A hacker can intercept data by posing as an intermediary website to steal it. This procedure is simple if the certificate has expired.

TLS certificates that are no longer valid or expired:

The possibility of data interception and a general deterioration in the reputation of the certificate holder is increased by expired certificates. If someone can keep up with their present certifications, they could stay on track.

Recommended: Renew SSL/TLS Certificate Starts at Just $2.99/Yr

Insecure Links: 

Many websites may quickly redirect an HTTP site to an HTTPS address. An adversarial actor might exploit a vulnerability in the execution to intercept data.

Security Concerns/Vulnerabilities with HTTP

When utilizing HTTP, there are several factors to consider because it is not secure, including:

Data Tampering: 

A malicious actor can intercept and change data before it reaches its intended destination since it is in plain text.

Content Injection: 

A hacker can insert HTML or CSS into your web browser by intercepting and modifying messages.

Risk of using public Wi-Fi: 

An evil entity may access both your and other people’s data in a public setting.

Injection Attacks: 

Cross-site scripting is easier when a line poses a risk. This is the case because HTTPS does what HTTP needs to do: confirm that data packages are coming from the intended origin.

Wrap Up!

On port 80, the TCP protocol enables an HTTP connection. Because the web browser and servers communicate over this port without encryption, sensitive user data is left open to hackers and might be misused for malicious purposes.

A data breach cannot access the data over an encrypted connection utilizing HTTPS Port 443 since a web browser cannot read the data. Because of this, while accessing the web, a secure HTTPS Port 443 connection is undoubtedly more effective than an insecure HTTP Port 80 connection.

Common FAQs

What makes HTTP and HTTPS ports different from one other?

While HTTP is not secure, HTTPS is. HTTPS uses port 443, while HTTP uses port 80 to carry data. While HTTPS runs at the transport layer, HTTP runs at the application layer. HTTP does not require an SSL certificate, but HTTPS does require one that a CA has issued.

What does port 443 Serve as?

The default HTTPS (encrypted) port is 443, designed explicitly for HTTPS services. Port 443—also referred to as HTTPS port 443—is used for all secure transactions. You might be surprised to learn that over 95% of protected websites use port 443 for secure transactions.

Does 8080 refer to Port 80?

For offering online services, this port is a popular replacement for port 80. Because it is “two 80s” and above the range of well-known, limited-service ports, “8080” was chosen.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.