HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol but is used for transferring all kinds of data and it is a protocol based on plain text.

HTTP Requests are composed of a domain (or an IP address), a resource, a method and usually a bunch of headers. Requests, in addition to headers, can have body too. A hello world in HTTP can be demonstrated by using telnet 80:

Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
GET / HTTP/1.1
connection: close

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: max-age=604800
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2019 21:53:24 GMT
Etag: "1541025663+ident"
Expires: Sun, 06 Oct 2019 21:53:24 GMT
Last-Modified: Fri, 09 Aug 2013 23:54:35 GMT
Server: ECS (ord/573A)
Vary: Accept-Encoding
X-Cache: HIT
Content-Length: 1270
Connection: close

<!doctype html>

The example above shows host and connection headers. HTTP headers are not case sensitive. There are many other HTTP headers. Following the domain comes the path and the query parameters. For example /foo/bar/baz?q=1&t=2 consists of the path /foo/bar/baz and query parameters q=1 and t=2.

As per methods, here is a summary: GET usually does not have any body and used to retrieve data. POST usually is used to insert data which is supplied in the request body. HEAD asks for HTTP headers only for a given path. OPTIONS is used mostly for CORS requests. DELETE is used for deleting resources, mostly found in a specific path such as /v1/orders/id/42 would be a request to delete order with id 42. PUT is similar to POST but means either insert or update and PATCH is used for partial updates.

CONNECT is a special HTTP method. Instead of making a request to a server directly, it asks for a proxy server to open a connection. Proxy servers usually immediatly answer CONNECT requests, and blindly forwards any request to destination and vise-versa.

HTTP Responses are very similar to HTTP Requests in the sense of they also have headers and a body but instead of methods, responses has statuses such as 200 or 404.

SSL Connection with openssl

telnet does not support secure connections, however open_ssl can be used from terminals to connect to web servers that require the handshake.

openssl s_client -connect

will successfuly handle the required SSL handshake by the server:

depth=2 C = US, O = DigiCert Inc, OU =, CN = DigiCert Global Root CA
verify return:1
depth=1 C = US, O = DigiCert Inc, CN = DigiCert SHA2 Secure Server CA
verify return:1
depth=0 C = US, ST = ca, L = San Francisco, O = "Netlify, Inc", CN = *
verify return:1
Certificate chain
 0 s:/C=US/ST=ca/L=San Francisco/O=Netlify, Inc/CN=*
   i:/C=US/O=DigiCert Inc/CN=DigiCert SHA2 Secure Server CA
 1 s:/C=US/O=DigiCert Inc/CN=DigiCert SHA2 Secure Server CA
   i:/C=US/O=DigiCert Inc/ Global Root CA
Server certificate
subject=/C=US/ST=ca/L=San Francisco/O=Netlify, Inc/CN=*
issuer=/C=US/O=DigiCert Inc/CN=DigiCert SHA2 Secure Server CA
No client certificate CA names sent
Server Temp Key: ECDH, X25519, 253 bits
SSL handshake has read 3407 bytes and written 293 bytes
New, TLSv1/SSLv3, Cipher is ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256
Server public key is 2048 bit
Secure Renegotiation IS supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
No ALPN negotiated
    Protocol  : TLSv1.2
    Cipher    : ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256
    Session-ID: 49A706EFE3CF2A507063E23CD8970517317959AF3C207BF624EF91F2CC79A216
    Master-Key: 126A134A751750DE5229283CAA12B010AC711FD06DA431CBA2A63378E81FF41DB3C96154FE64302D9212F4650B48D351
    TLS session ticket lifetime hint: 7200 (seconds)
    TLS session ticket:
    0000 - 18 cb 40 a9 17 a3 86 e8-55 2a f8 df fd 32 ad b8   ..@.....U*...2..
    0010 - ae 01 05 52 77 e5 64 9f-bb d7 e7 13 b9 06 8b 79   ...Rw.d........y
    0020 - d4 c4 55 5c 04 31 5c 27-9d 6d 77 e1 03 30 6d 8e   ..U\.1\'.mw..0m.
    Start Time: 1569174426
    Timeout   : 7200 (sec)
    Verify return code: 0 (ok)

At this point we are free to send HTTP requests, that are secured by openssl as per the SSL handshake. Sending the following followed by two linebreaks:

GET /cat.txt HTTP/1.1
connection: close

will return:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Cache-Control: public, max-age=0, must-revalidate
Content-Length: 33
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2019 17:48:56 GMT
Etag: "ac5affa59f554a1440043537ae973790-ssl"
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000
Age: 31
Connection: close
Server: Netlify
X-NF-Request-ID: 430113ee-49ad-4d0f-ae15-c270b9635100-1238620

\    /\
 )  ( ')
(  /  )

Random Notes