SSL Certificates or Secure Socket Layer Certificates were made to ensure that web servers and browsers have a secure connection. SSL uses a 3rd party CA or Certificate Authority. This CA is used to identify both ends of the connection. It is a very simple process used to keep data hidden from the public.
TLS or Transport Layer Security is just an updated version of SSL, which can be certified as more secure. Most people still call TLS as SSL because it is a more commonly used term. HTTPS or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure appears in any URL when a website is secured by an SSL certificate.
When the browser requests a secure page (e.g. https://) the web server sends it a public key with its SSL certificate. The browser then checks if this SSL certificate is genuine or not. It does this by checking if it is from a trusted website. It also checks if it is still a valid SSL Certificate and is actually from the site the browser has contacted. A public key is then used by the browser to encrypt a random symmetric encryption key. This is then sent to the server with the required encrypted data and URL. The web server then decrypts the symmetric encryption key using a private key. Then the web server then decrypts the URL and https data by using the symmetric key. Finally, the web server sends back this data encrypted with the symmetric key to the browser. The browser then decrypts this sent back data. It does this using the symmetric key and shows you the information on the display.
How safe is SSL/TLS?
SSL/TLS only deals with your data’s security. Do not confuse SSL certificates security with privacy. Metadata like source and destination IP, hostname, payload size, and timing is not secured by SSL/TLS. Only the data is encrypted. Metadata can be used to create a profile in your name. This profile will include your browsing history. SSL/TLS only secures data like cookies and form data which are not available to the public. They cannot be manipulated or sniffed upon.
What is SSL/TLS decryption required for?
SSL/TLS decryption or SSL certificates are very important decryption required by various applications. Some of these applications are:
- Cloud Services Monitoring
SSL/TLS certificates are used to secure web application services running in the cloud. Only after the SSL certificates are decrypted, they can be differentiated and monitored.
- Malware Detection
Nowadays there is malware that is SSL-based and can completely go undetected by servers. They can easily misuse a host or a number of hosts. SSL/TLS decryption can easily help you detect this type of malware.
- DLP or Data Loss Prevention
Command and Control exploit like Zeus, Dridex and others will often try to infiltrate into your SSL. They do this to steal your valuable information and data. DLP tools need data encrypted by SSL/TLS to detect potential threats like this. This helps to stop them from misusing your data.
Advantages and Disadvantages OF SSL/TLS
Using SSL or TLS on your website has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. But it is wise to use SSL Certificates for any website. SSL certificates come with many privacy benefits for your website. They also help you Google rank your website.
You might still be confused whether to use SSL/TLS for your website. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of SSL/TLS to clear your confusion.
User privacy: User data on any website will be highly secured and protected if it is running an SSL certificate. The data of your website’s users will be out of the reach of potential hackers. All your data might be in the wrong hands and you might not even know it. AN SSL certificate will bind a cryptographic key to a certain organization’s name and details. Therefore, the user data on your website has fewer chances of ending up in the wrong hands.
Prevents fraud: SSL certificates prevent cyber attacks on your user network. The connection between you and your website’s users will always be safe. Login data, payment details or other confidential details will never be stolen.
Google website ranking: If Google notices your website URL is https approved and has an SSL/TLS certificate, your website will automatically be ranked higher. Google uses https as a ranking signal. Encrypted connections are used as signals for Google’s ranking algorithm.
You will gain reputation: The green lock on your website will assure your users that their information is safe. This will give your website a good reputation among users. For example, customers will willingly purchase products from your website and also register if they see an https URL.
Computation time: Your server might respond quite late for users. Try to hire a good network specialist to solve this problem.
Insecure encryption methods: Sometimes a website might choose a broken SSL certificate to encrypt the website. This makes your site highly insecure.
The above points clearly show that the advantages of SSL/TSL certificates clearly diminish any disadvantages it has.
Some myths about SSL/TLS certificates
There are many myths regarding SSL/TLS certificates. Some of the most common ones are:
- It is hard to set up: Nowadays it hardly takes 20-30 minutes to set up ssl certificates.
- SSL certificates cost a lot of money: SSL certificates are actually freely available. Nothing could be cheaper than free.
- If the certificate expires your website will be shut down: SSL certificates can nowadays be automatically renewed once they expire, so no worries there.
What to choose SSL or TLS?
SSL and TLS is actually the same thing with different names. SSL is a more commonly used term. Most website owners confuse SSL and TSL and think they are different certificates.
SSL certificates are important factors for any website. You will never have budget issues while getting an SSL certificate. Security should be your only concern when establishing a website. It helps in ranking your site on Google and increase registration and purchases on your sites. This 2 should be good enough reasons for you to get SSL/TLS certificate.
Saief is the founder and CEO of VernalWeb, a fast growing web hosting company. Saief is a digital marketing enthusiast. He’s on a valiant quest to discover effective marketing strategies then share those secrets with VernalWeb users.