Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, is the layering of Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) and HTTP protocols to create secure communication. HTTPS indicates that the website has been authenticated by a third party Certification Authority (CA), and that the organization operating the website is who they claim to be. HTTPS is a visual indication that information is being exchanged for the session in a more secure way.
HTTPS appears in the URL when a website is secured by an SSL certificate. The details of the certificate, including the issuing authority and the corporate name of the website owner, can be viewed by clicking on either the lock symbol on the browser bar or the Norton Secured Seal posted on the page. Websites that display HTTPS in the URL and include the green bar are secured by Extended Validation, the most stringently validated form of SSL. These websites go through the most industry mandated rigorous authentication procedures.
Another important step towards ensuring a user is protected as they view a website is having the site completely hosted over HTTPS, including all the content, images, and links. If not all of the web pages are loaded over HTTPS, the user can be susceptible to session hijack.