Introduction to SSL vs TLS
The security of the internet reminds you of the alphabet – SSL, ECC, TLS, SHA, and more. These acronyms can be confusing, and you might have a hard time finding out what your business needs. Maybe what you usually get asked about is the difference between TLS and SSL. If you want to have a secure website, you must first know what makes them different from each other.
The world is increasingly digital where SSL certificates are of extreme importance. In fact, it has become a protocol for ensuring the security of your customers. You do not want them to be attacked by hackers because they used your website. Let’s talk about what makes TLS and SSL different from each other.
SSL vs. TLS
Most people who have an online business knows that SSL provides encrypted and secured communication between the server and their clients. However, you might be curious about TLS as well.
This is very simple. TLS is a more advanced version of SSL. TLS was introduced in 1999 as an SSL upgraded version 3.0 and it was written by Tim Dierks and Christopher Allen.
The SSL 2.0 and 3.0 were considered unacceptable by the IETF in 2011 and 2015. Throughout the years, there were vulnerabilities discovered in SSL like Poodle and Drown. Many modern browsers are going to show the experience of a degraded user when they find a web server that uses the old protocols. Therefore, you must disable SSL 2.0 and 3.0 in the configuration of your server so you only leave TLS protocols enabled.
Which One is More Secure?
In the past, TLSv1 was considered only a little more secure compared to SSLv3. Today, the SSLv3 is dated and attacks like Poddle vulnerability show that it is critically not secure.
Discovering PODDLE directly led to the disabling of SSLv3 for websites and global services. Hence, it was rendered as a security that is dead. Therefore, if your SSLv3 is not yet disabled, you should do it already. In case you are unsure whether your site still uses SSLv3 there are free tools to check it.
Newer iterations of TLS-v1.1, v1.2, and v1.3 have addressed many vulnerabilities in TLSv1 and SSLv3. Many people believe that you must now make sure that all instances of TLSv1 should be deactivated. Websites that used TLSv1 and accepted services or credit cards had to discontinue by June 30, 2018. They were required to use TLSv1 or higher from then on.
Certificates are Different from Protocols
Before you worry about having to replace your existing SSL certificates, you must know that certificates do not depend on protocols. That means you do not have to use a TLS certificate against an SSL certificate. Even if a lot of vendors tend to use SSL/TLS certificate, there is a more accurate recognition for them. That is certificates to be used with SSL and TLS. This is because the protocols get determined by a server configuration instead of the certificates.
There is a very slim chance that you will still see certificates that are SSL because more people are familiar with that. However, there is increasing usage of TLS instead of SSL. Both are commonly compromised until everyone starts to recognize TLS instead of SSL.
How the Old SSL Protocol Versions Make Internet Security Weaker
Back in 2014, Google researchers disclosed the vulnerability of POODLE. It lets attackers decrypt the encryption connections of websites that use SSL 3.0 protocol by using an attack called “man in the middle”, which is a common way of data interception.
The hacker inserts a special process between the server and client where their communication is passing through. This is how the hacker can listen to private communication. In addition, the hacker can direct the client to a website that the hacker controls. The hacker will then infect the client with malware or do a financial fraud.
Why Should You Use SSL/TSL Protocols?
Your site will benefit from using encrypted data in two ways. First, it keeps intruders from intercepting communications between web browsers and your website. Second is that you keep intruders from listening passively when you communicate with your server.
The level of importance this has must not be neglected, especially for the sites that need to build trust with their users. These include eCommerce sites where credit card information is being entered.
However, the protocols of SSL and TLS have drawbacks.
TLS can make your site slow. The handshake is hungry for resources because asymmetric encryption is used to create a session key. In addition, it makes server management more complex because you must have an SSL certificate installed and maintain certificate validity.
The SSL certificate is a data file that links a cryptographic key about your organization’s details after it is installed on the webserver. You will also receive a serial number, expiration date, public-key certificate copy, and digital signature of the CA. This makes the communication from the webserver to browser secure.
Are SSL and TLS Cryptographically Different?
The truth is, yes, they are cryptographically different. However, the historic versions of SSL 2, and SSL 3, or TLS versions 1, 1.1, 1,2 or 1.3 SSL and TLS have the same protocol. But since there are differences in the versions, SSL 2 was not compatible with version 3, and SSL version 3 is not with TLS version 1. You can say that TLS was just another name for SSL v4 because their protocols are the same.
Each released version had and will have their improvements or bad features. The SSL version 1 was not released, and the 2nd one had a lot of flaws even if it was released. The SSL version 3 was just a rewritten version of the 2nd and TLS 1 was a better version of SSL v3. Since TLS v1 was released, there have been less significant changes, but it is not less important.
It is safe to say that TLS and SSL simply pertain to the handshake that happens between the server and client. The handshake does not do the encryption, and it only agrees to give the secret key that will be used.
The TLS revisions have had two revisions since 2006. It was revised to TLS 1.1 in 2006 and TLS 1.2 in 2008. In the year 2011, the IETF revised RFC 6176 by removing backward compatibility with the SSL 2.0. some implementations of the TLS remain to be backward compatible with the SSL 3.0. That is because since the protocols do not interpolate, there are no major differences that separate SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0.
There is not much difference between SSL and TLS. In fact, a lot of people still use the term SSL. However, when it comes to server configuration, their vulnerabilities are different, the browser warnings about security, and outdated cipher suites. With your servers, you should only enable TSL protocols.
When choosing your SSL certificate provider, make sure to consider the ones that are reputable and have a good track record. There are many resellers, but only a few can deliver the service that you need.