Website Security - What is SSL, TLS and HTTPS?February 9, 2022
Safely visiting and interacting with websites is made possible using a series of network protocols such as SSL, TLS, and HTTPS. You may have noticed the “padlock” sign next to the URL placed above on many websites. This is used to inform users that the data that is transferred during their visit to the website is secure. With the evolving state of the web, these security protocols are now more important than you may think. Modern website security protocols provide an umbrella of security to sensitive information such as a users’ identity, location and web activity. In this article we are going to discuss how these features protect your information online. Continue reading to learn what SSL, TLS, and HTTPS protocols are and how they help secure your information online.
HTTP Vs HTTPS
The exchange of data on the internet uses a protocol known as “HyperText Transfer Protocol” (HTTP). It is used to establish a connection over the web and enable the exchange of information. This includes all sorts of content such as text, pictures, videos and other types of files. HTTP sends data between the user and the server in clear text which exposes it to malicious intent on the internet. Here are some advantages of HTTP:
- Allows easy identification based on IP addresses which allows users easy engagement with the webpage.
- HTTP is capable of being used with plugins and extensions.
- HTTP caching allows enhanced performance and accessibility
However, despite these advantages, the reason why HTTP is not preferred anymore is its lack of security and data encryption.
This is where “Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol” (HTTPS) comes in. HTTPS is essentially HTTP with the added feature of encrypting the data that is sent between the user and the server. This protocol uses “Encryption Algorithms” to secure information and make it unreadable across its digital route. The “padlock” symbol at the top of websites is a sign that the website is using HTTPS to encrypt information. The primary advantage of HTTPS is that it uses security protocols to create a safer digital environment for functions that can potentially compromise:
- Financial details
- Biometric data
- Geolocational information
- Recent web activity
- Passwords and login details
What Is SSL?
To prevent data from falling into the wrong hands, HTTPS further branches into two safety protocols, the first of which is known as the “Security Socket Layer” (SSL) certificate. Unlike Shared Key Encryption which uses one key that is shared between the sender and receiver, SSL uses Public Key Encryption which uses an improved method of securing data by using two separate keys: the private key and the public key. The public key is openly available, however, the private keys are used by the web server and the user’s web browser to decrypt the data that is being sent over. If hackers attempt to intercept the data, they will get an uninterpretable piece of code. Here is what happens when you transfer data across an SSL in a nutshell:
- Step 1: Before connecting to the website, the web browser asks the website to identify itself.
- Step 2: The website sends the browser it’s “SSL Certificate.”
SSL Certificate (def.) : A piece of code used to validate the public key of a website and its identity.”
- Step 3: After the website is acknowledged, it is then displayed to the user.
Does SSL Impact SEO?
If your website lacks an SSL certificate, you are going to have a more difficult time ranking your website on Google. In 2014, Google altered its algorithm to prioritize websites that possess an SSL certificate over those that do not. Although high-engaging content and effective backlinking strategies are an effective way of making sure your website ranks well, having an SSL certificate can really help. Moreover, customers are more likely to follow through with transactions on your website if you have an SSL certificate that can protect the integrity of their sensitive information.
TLS: A More Advanced Security Protocol
The TLS (Transport Layer System) is the successor to SSL. It is the latest cryptographic protocol that provides an added layer of support by creating faster and more secure exchanges of data. TLS uses two security measures while sending data across between the server and the client: the Key-Hashing Message Authentication Code (HMAC) and the Enhanced Pseudorandom Function (EPF). Used simultaneously, these features prevent data from being altered at any time during the exchange. While both SSL and TLS perform the same functions, TLS includes a significantly improved authentication method.
For a brief history of SSL, its first version was never released due to security issues. The second version (SSL 2.0) was released in 1995, however, it still contained many security loopholes which is why it was replaced by SSL 3.0 in 1996. Just after a few years, in 1999 TLS 1.0 was launched. And the most recent version of TLS 3.0 was released in 2018.
Related Article: Top WordPress Security Plugins
Never Compromise on Security – Hire a Professional Developer
The compromise of your data’s security can have troublesome outcomes. Implementing SSL, TLS, and HTTPS to your website can be a confusing task and should ideally be performed by an expert. To ensure the integrity of your valuable information, you should hire a professional Web Developer to optimize your website’s security. They will be able to install the necessary security certificates and make sure the right protocols are in place, resulting in faster loading times as well! Moreover, a team of experts will be able to offer you maintenance, technical updates and performance optimization on an on-going basis.
If you are looking for a consultation from an experienced Web Development team, you can contact pubGENIUS by clicking on the Contact Us button below.