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HTTPS vs. VPN: Why you need both

Apr 19, 2019 · 2 min read

HTTPS vs. VPN: Why you need both

HTTPS and VPNs do similar things in different ways, so it’s understandable why some people confuse the two. Both are tools used to protect internet users and their privacy, but luckily, when it comes to HTTPS vs. VPN, you can easily use both. Learn what HTTPS and VPNs do, what they have in common, and how they differ.

What is HTTPS?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, is a connection protocol that web browsers use to communicate with websites. “Secure” is the most important part – HTTPS employs the TLS encryption protocol to secure data shared between users and websites. It also performs authentication to ensure that both parties are who they say they are and verifies that the data being sent hasn’t been tampered with.

difference-between https and vpn

If a site uses HTTPS, your ISP or someone snooping on your connection can only see what website you visited, not what you did there. Therefore, it’s very important to check whether the website you use for online shopping, for example, uses HTTPS. If it doesn’t, your name, contact and credit card information could get stolen. To find out if the site you are browsing uses HTTPS, check your browser’s URL bar. Most display a lock icon next to the URL if HTTPS is enabled.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network), on the other hand, creates an encrypted tunnel between the user's device and a server. In addition to your browser, all other traffic from your device is encrypted and hidden from your ISP and other third parties as well. The only thing they can see is that you are connected to a VPN server – nothing else.

HTTPS vs. VPN: Which is better?

Each of these tools is better at different things, and they work great together to keep you secure. If you want safe, private, and unrestricted internet access, you need both.

  • HTTPS needs to be enabled on both your browser and on the website you visit, while a VPN will always work as long as you keep it on.
  • HTTPS provides end-to-end encryption, while a VPN provides encryption from your device to the VPN server.
  • A VPN secures all online communications coming from your device, while HTTPS only provides encryption between the website and your browser.
  • HTTPS is vulnerable to certain attacks (like root certificate attacks) that a VPN can sometimes help protect it from. HTTPS encryption is also generally weaker than the encryption a VPN provides.
  • Neither will protect you from attacks or scams on the websites you visit (unless the VPN offers a tool like CyberSec, which blacklists malicious websites).

The best part is that you don't have to choose between the two – using them both together is easy! By always keeping your VPN on and only browsing HTTPS sites when you go online, you'll be much more secure.

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Anna Rasmussen
Anna Rasmussen successVerified author

Anna is a content writer at NordVPN. As a young tech enthusiast, she helps readers explore what makes the internet run and how to stay safe.


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