SSL and TLS

You may be hearing more and more about SSL and TLS in the news lately. These terms are being used by companies such as Google to make more people aware of their importance when browsing (I’m talking about you, Chrome).

There is a marked distinction between SSL and TLS. Two protocols encrypt data sent over the Internet. These protocols are objectives for cryptographers, network security experts, and developers who want to establish encrypted links between a web server and browsers.

What are SSL and TLS?

A secure connection is encrypted. The encryption protects the data you send and receive so that anyone else can’t read it.

There are two types of encryption: SSL and TLS. Each has its pros and cons, but both provide a secure connection.

SSL, or Transport Layer Security, is a cryptographic protocol that provides communication security over a computer network. It protects the integrity and confidentiality of data by using encryption.

TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is a standard for secure communication over the internet. It allows client/server applications to communicate over a network in a way designed to prevent eavesdropping and tampering with information.

Why Do You Need an SSL/TLS Certificate?

SSL/TLS certificates encrypt data sent between your website and your users. Any information you send is secure and not visible to others. This is vital for protecting sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, and other data.

Without an SSL/TLS certificate, anyone on the same network as your website can intercept the traffic between your server and your user’s web browsers. This could allow them to see all the information being exchanged and even alter it before sending it along its way.

Difference Between SSL and TLS

TLS and SSL provide safe authentication and data transmission over the Internet. But how do TLS and SSL differ from one another? Do you need to be concerned about it?

SSL

TLS

The SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer,  TLS stands for Transport Layer Security.
Netscape created SSL in 1995. Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF) developed TLS for the first time in 1999.
Has three versions:

  • SSL 1.0
  • SSL 2.0,
  • SSL 3.0.
Has four versions:

  • TLS 1.0
  • TLS 1.1
  • TLS 1.2
  • TLS 1.3
In all versions of SSL, vulnerabilities have been found, and all have been deprecated.  From March 2020 onward, TLS 1.0 and 1.1 will no longer be supported.

In most cases, TLS 1.2 is used.

A web server and client communicate securely using SSL, a cryptographic protocol that uses explicit connections. Using TLS, the web server and client can communicate securely via implicit connections. TLS has replaced SSL.

Some other major differences in the working of SL and TLS are as follows:

Message Authentication

A primary difference between SSL and TLS is message authentication. SSL uses message authentication codes (MACs) to ensure messages are not tampered with during transmission. TLS does not use MACs for protection but instead relies on other means, such as encryption, to prevent tampering.

Record Protocol

The Record Protocol is how data is carried over a secure communications channel in both TLS and SSL, but it has some minor differences. In TLS, only one record may be taken per packet, while in SSL, multiple records may be carried per packet (though this was rarely implemented).

Additionally, some features in the Record Protocol of TLS are not included in SSL, such as compression and padding options.

Cipher Suites

TLS supports various cipher suites, which are algorithms used for encryption and decryption. The best-known cipher suite is the ephemeral Diffie-Hellman (DHE) key exchange based on elliptic curves, which provides perfect forward secrecy (PFS) and can be used with any key length. A few other cipher suites support PFS but are less widely used. SSL supports only one cipher suite with PFS, which uses a 1024-bit RSA key.

Alert Messages

The SSL protocol uses alert messages to inform the client or server about a specific error during communication. The TLS protocol does not have any equivalent mechanism.

In a nutshell, SSL is no longer in use, and TLS is the new term for the antiquated SSL protocol as a current encryption standard used by all. Although TLS is technically more accurate, SSL is widely used.

Why Did TLS Replace SSL?

To protect online applications or in-transit data from eavesdropping and alteration, TLS encryption is now a routine procedure. TLS has been vulnerable to breaches like Crime and Heartbleed in 2012 and 2014. Although it has demonstrated significant advances in efficiency and security, it is unrealistic to believe it is the most secure protocol.

Consensus Development’s Christopher Allen and Tim Dierks created the TLS 1.0 protocol, an improvement on SSL 3.0.

Even though the name change implies a substantial difference between the two, there weren’t many.

According to Dierks, Microsoft changed its name to save face. He stated:

To avoid giving the impression that the IETF was endorsing Netscape’s protocol, we had to rebrand SSL 3.0 as part of the horsetrading (for the same reason). And so, TLS 1.0 was created (which was SSL 3.1). Of course, looking back, the entire situation seems ridiculous.

SSL is being replaced with TLS, and practically all SSL versions have been deemed obsolete due to documented security flaws. One example is Google Chrome, which ceased using SSL 3.0 in 2014. The majority of contemporary online browsers do not support SSL at all.

Why Replace Your SSL Certificates with TLS Certificates?

The main reason for replacing your existing SSL certificates with new TLS certificates is that they are incompatible with each other — they use different protocols and algorithms. This means that any browser or client application that uses one protocol won’t be able to connect securely with a server using the other protocol without explicit configuration changes being made on both sides of the connection.

Final Words

Both SSL and TLS certificates provide the same function of encrypting data flow if you compare them. An improved and more secure version of SSL was TLS. However, SSL certificates, which are widely available online, have the same function of protecting your website. In actuality, they both provide the HTTPS address bar, which has come to be recognized as the distinguishing feature of online security.

While SSL and TLS safeguard your website from unauthorized usage, DMARC protects your email domain from impersonation. DMARC is an email authentication standard that enables you to take action against emails sent from unauthorized sources that impersonate your domain name.

Beginning your path towards DMARC enforcement with PowerDMARC will allow you to govern your domain fully, acquire visibility on your email channels at the quickest market rate, and safely transition to stricter policies!