HTTPS file transfer is an encrypted file transfer protocol that typically uses Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) port 443. HTTPS is commonly used by website browsers to access websites, but it can also be used to transfer files.
How is HTTPS different from HTTP?
HTTP sends requests, responses and data in plaintext, meaning that cybercriminals can read and use confidential data. Unlike HTTP, HTTPS uses Transport Layer Security (TLS), formerly known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), to encrypt data. By making data unreadable during transfer, TLS keeps cybercriminals from reading and using website visitors’ personal information.
How does HTTPS compare to FTPS and SFTP?
Before diving into this comparison, it’s important to note that HTTPS, FTPS and SFTP are all secure because they encrypt data before transferring it.
|Encryption||Encrypts files with TLS||Encrypts files with TLS||Encrypts files with Secure Shell (SSH)|
|Firewall Configuration||Easier because it uses one port (443)||More difficult because it can use different ports depending on mode used||Easier because it uses one port (22)|
|Authentication||With certificates||With certificates||With keys|
|Custom Commands Supported||Yes||Yes||No|
|Transfer Resume (after interruption)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
How does HTTPS work?
To explain how HTTPS works, I’ll use the example of you visiting this website with your internet browser.
- TCP Handshake
- Your website browser sends a message called a SYN.
- Our web server sends an acknowledgement message called a SYN ACK.
- Your website browser sends an ACK RECEIVED MESSAGE to our web server.
- TLS Handshake
- Client Hello
Key Agreement Protocol Guess
- Server Hello
Key Agreement Protocol
- Client Finished
- Browser Receives Data from Server
Our website server sends data to your browser in encrypted packets to keep others from reading it.
Before your website browser (a client) gets a copy of our website from the web server, it needs to make sure the server is ready to receive its requests. If it doesn’t verify the connection, some data may be lost.
The connection is verified with TCP through a three-way handshake.
There are three steps in a three-way handshake:
After the handshake is complete, the data can be encrypted.
HTTPS uses TLS to authenticate the server and encrypt data. Like TCP, TLS uses a handshake, but this handshake’s purpose is different. Instead of verifying the connection, this handshake secures the connection.
The steps in the handshake vary based on whether TLS 1.2 or 1.3 is used.
These are the steps for a TLS 1.3 handshake:
How do I transfer files with HTTPS?
There are two ways to transfer files with HTTPS:
- Through your internet browser — best for file sharing
- With the Thru Node — best for automated file transfers
If you mostly share files manually, your best bet is to find a file sharing solution that lets users drag and drop files into an online portal to upload them.
The Thru Node, our managed file transfer (MFT) agent, is built for automated internal and external HTTPS file transfers. It’s orchestrated by our cloud, but it can be installed on-premises.
The node can:
- Compress files
- PGP encrypt files
- Rename files
- Route files to certain folders
To learn more about the node, visit our internal file transfer page.
Add More Security to File Transfers with Thru
HTTPS provides security while data is in transit, but it doesn’t provide additional controls or visibility. That’s where Thru, our MFT solution, comes in. Thru includes the following security features:
- Support for common secure file transfer protocols (SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS)
- PGP encryption
- Role-based access controls
- User authentication
To see more about these features, please visit our secure file transfer page.