What is SSL and TLS? A Beginner’s Guide to Website Security

In today’s digital world, the internet has made major impact on our life. We use it for shopping, banking, communicating with friends and family, and accessing information on a daily basis. However, with this increased dependency on the internet comes an increased risk of our sensitive information might intercept and stolen by hackers and cybercriminals. To fight such threats, security protocols like SSL and TLS are developed to encrypt data which is transmitted over the internet and protect it from unauthorized access. In this article, we will see what SSL and TLS protocols are, how they work, and why they are important for online security.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, which is a security protocol used to encrypt the data which is transmitted between a website and a user’s browser. It creates a secure channel between the user and website so that any information that can exchange between them cannot intercept by unauthorized parties.

When you visit any website with SSL enabled, you’ll see a padlock icon in the address bar of your browser. This indicates that the website is secure and your data is being encrypted.

padlock icon

SSL certificates are used to confirm the legitimacy of the website and are given by a reputable third-party authority. Particularly, by doing this, you can be confident that the website you’re interacting with is real and not a scam.

What is TLS?

TLS stands for Transport Layer Security, which is an updated version of SSL. Transport Layer Security is used to encrypt data transmitted over the internet and is used by many websites to secure their online transactions.

It works in a similar way like SSL but it is more secure and powerful that provides better protection against attacks. It uses more advance encryption algorithms and has improved security features, such as perfect forward secrecy and session resumption.

TLS is used in many different websites, that includes e-commerce sites, banks, and social media platforms, to protect their users sensitive information.

Do you know What VPN is?

Why is SSL/TLS important?

SSL and TLS are important because they provide a secure way to transmit sensitive information over the internet.  Without these protocols, data sent over the internet is vulnerable to theft and fraud since it may intercept and read by unauthorised persons.

There are several important factors that include,

  1. Protects Important Information: SSL/TLS encryption prevents thieves from accessing and reading sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and personal details. Without SSL/TLS, it would be simple to steal this data and use it fraudulently.
  1. Builds Trust: SSL/TLS certificates are provided by reputable third-party agencies, confirming the legitimacy of the website and encouraging user confidence. A padlock icon in the address bar signifies that a website is safe when it employs SSL/TLS. This promotes the website’s credibility and trustworthiness.
  1. Enhances Search Engine Rankings: Search engines like Google give SSL/TLS-encrypted websites preference. As a result, employing SSL/TLS can increase your website’s search engine ranks, bringing more visitors and increasing its visibility online.
  2. Compliance with Regulations: A number of rules, like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), mandate the use of SSL/TLS encryption for websites that deal with sensitive data. You may make sure that your website meets with these rules by utilising SSL/TLS.
  3. Protects Against Phishing and Fraud: Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) can assist defend against phishing scams and online fraud. Additionally, SSL/TLS certificates authenticate the authenticity of the website, users can be confident that they are not being directed to a fake website designed to steal their information.

What is the Difference between SSL and TLS?

SSL (Secure Socket Layer)TLS (Transport Layer Security)
Developed by Netscape in the 1990sDeveloped by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in the 2000s
No longer considered secure and is deprecatedWidely used and considered more secure than SSL
Uses a fixed cipher suiteSupports multiple cipher suites, which can be negotiated during the handshake process
Only supports SHA-1 and MD5 hashing algorithmsSupports SHA-2 and SHA-3 hashing algorithms, which are more secure
Does not support perfect forward secrecy (PFS)Supports PFS, which adds an extra layer of security
Session resumption is not optimized for performanceSession resumption is optimized for performance, improving speed and efficiency
Uses a two-step handshake processUses a three-step handshake process
Vulnerable to certain attacks, such as POODLE and HeartbleedMore resistant to attacks and has fewer vulnerabilities


In conclusion, SSL and TLS are security protocols that encrypt data transmitted over the internet to protect it from interception and theft. They are essential for secure online transactions and are important for SEO as well. When you see the padlock icon in your browser’s address bar, you will rest assured that your information is transmitted securely.

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