What Is HTTPS File Transfer?


Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) 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?

Note: 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.

  1. TCP Handshake
  2. 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:

    1. Your website browser sends a message called a SYN.
    2. Our web server sends an acknowledgement message called a SYN ACK.
    3. Your website browser sends an ACK RECEIVED MESSAGE to our web server.

    After the handshake is complete, the data can be encrypted.

  3. TLS Handshake
  4. 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:

    1. Client Hello
      Key Agreement Protocol Guess
      Key Share
    2. Server Hello
      Key Agreement Protocol
      Key Share
      Server Finished
    3. Client Finished
  5. Browser Receives Data from Server

    Our website server sends data to your browser in encrypted packets to keep others from reading it.

How do I transfer files with HTTPS?

There are two ways to transfer files with HTTPS:

  1. Through your internet browser — best for file sharing
  2. 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.

  3. With the Thru Node — best for automated file transfers
  4. 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 is installed on-premises.

    The node can also apply basic processing rules to files such as

    • Compression/decompression
    • PGP encryption/decryption
    • Renaming
    • Routing to specific folders

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 learn more about our security features, please visit our secure file transfer page »



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