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HTTP/2 – An Unbeatable Protocol for Enhanced Web Security

Many of us must have heard about SSL security, cyber attacks increasing in the digital world and topping the chart is the Google’s announcement for flagging the websites that are not using HTTPS secure feature with properly installed SSL certificate. So how to combat or prevent threats? One of the simplest answers is to get HTTPS and SSL Certificate installed. Other than this a new acronym has been seen recently that is HTTP. It is applicable whenever you browse the web. If we go technically then HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and it is developed back in 1999 to monitor the communication between your server and the browser. In other words, these are the protocols and regulations which are used by leading browsers like Chrome, Safari, Mozilla and many others displayed web pages.

Going towards the history – Since the development of HTTP/1.X lately, no one would have ever imagined that things in the computing world will really get changed so dramatically. For better understanding let’s see an example – these days computers are far-reached in terms of hardware capabilities and functionalities as compared with HTTP/1, first when it was integrated. The consequences of such an extrovert evolution have urged for an instant update on the protocol to cater the modern browsing requirements and needs. This has changed the industry’s perspective on large grounds.

http2 protocol

Overview of HTTP/2

It was originally named HTTP/2.0 and then there was a major revision of the HTTP network protocol that was used by the entire World Wide Web. This was initially created from the earlier experimental SPDY protocol – this was formerly developed by Google. Technically, HTTP/2 was initiated by the Hypertext Transfer Protocol functional group httpbis (bis means “second“) which were the part of Internet Engineering Task Force. There were many browsers that extended support on the standardization and supported the cause. Browsers who supported were – Opera, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer 11, Amazon Silk, and Edge browsers. The majority of the browsers added HTTP/2 support by the end of 2015.

So what shall the websites do:

Websites that are well-organized in minimizing the several numbers of requests need to deliver the whole page by minifying the available resources such as scripts and images? However, the reduction here is neither necessarily convenient nor competent and may still need detached HTTP connections for the web page and the other minified resources. HTTP/2 permit the server to “push” the content, which then responds to the data, in case there are more queries than the client requested.

Stop here for a while, before moving ahead, and learn What Is HTTP/2?

HTTP/2 is the latest update to the HTTP protocol that is given by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). HTTP/2 is the descendant to HTTP/1.1, which was originally drafted in 1999. It is very much essential to bring up the fresh and updated versions in the protocols, hence HTTP/2 as developed. This new update is lucky as it brings certain advancements in security, efficiency, and speed.

Where Did HTTP/2 Come From?

It originated from Google’s own protocol SPDY, which will be denounced in 2016. It came with amazing features and discovered to manage and improve the data transmission while keeping compatibility backward. SPDY has confirmed that many of the concepts that are used in HTTP/2 are trusted.

Turn-on HTTP/2 today! Is it good, if yes what are the benefits?

HTTP/2 is now available with Akamai and don’t forget it’s real (see demo).  The standard was finally got approved in February 2015. Most of the leading browsers support it. For Akamai customers, they can enable it right away; just in few click and they do not need and changes on the origin infrastructure as well.

Lets’ get into detailing:

The era has changed in terms of digital and online business, today web has radically evolved over the last 20+ years, but still, HTTP is the driving force of the Web. For several years the web developers have worked on HTTP and other protocols but they found that HTTP has certain limitations:

  • Often the performance ratio falls short in terms of the full bandwidth and its utilization
  • The web design and its protection becomes more complex
  • Resource consumption increases for client and server
  • Cacheability of resources suffers

Although, HTTP/2 tries to solve almost all your shortcomings and inflexibilities that were seen in HTTP/1.1

Scroll down for the features of HTTP/2

Frames and Streams: This protocol’s messages are made up of many frames and have streams attached – they are commonly called as RST_STREAM, HEADERS, DATA, SETTINGS, PRIORITY, others. There is bundle of frames that make up a stream; therefore every frame has a stream ID to recognize its stream. Every request that is given is assigned to a unique stream ID and then broken into sections that are called as frames-binary divisions of data.

Multiplexing: Once a TCP connection opens, the streams of HTTP/2 can be propelled synchronously with no need of creating other connections.

Binary Protocol: HTTP/2 has issued or addressed the latency issues that were present in HTTP/1.X making it a binary protocol, which has now become much easier to parse. HTTP/2 uses header compression that reduces overhead.

Server Push: This feature is commendable, here in HTTP/2, a server can be pre-determined on what a server is going to ask for and will try to push these resources to the client – and all this before the server requests for it.

Request Prioritization: This feature of HTTP/2 permits the client to set priority to a stream in the HEADERS frame. This information can then be updated further if required by the client and also can be done in the PRIORITY basis frame.

Final thoughts:

HTTP/2 is certainly an enhanced and a better protocol towards civilizing the performance at the same time as ensuring that the preferred levels of security will be delivered to everyone. In reality, it does not matter if you are trying HTTP/2 for the first time or have just implemented it – in fact getting HTTP/2 up or live and keep running it is pretty easy and excitement.

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