Should You Use TLS or SSL?
In today’s digital age, cyber security has grown to be a significant concern that affects every part of the internet. From individuals to large corporations, users’ sensitive information is at risk. When data is transferred between client and server systems, the danger increases. As a result, a secure system that encrypts data transfer is essential. This is when an SSL or TLS certificate comes in handy. It serves as an endpoint encryption mechanism, keeping hackers from accessing encrypted data.
However, what makes TLS different from SSL? What should you use to ensure that your website is as safe as possible? In this article, we’ll break down each of these protocols, their differences, and ways in which you can make your website more secure.
What Is SSL?
SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, was developed in the 1990s by Netscape, one of the most popular web browsers at the time. It facilitates the establishment of a secured connection between the client and the server, which could be a web server or a browser. Encryption with SSL ensures that sensitive data such as personal information, social security numbers, and credit card details are delivered securely.
This means that every day, SSL protects the personal information of billions of people during online transactions and other types of activities involving confidential information. An SSL-protected website will show a lock icon, and an Extended Validation SSL will have a green address bar.
What Is TLS?
TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is a more secure version of SSL. To be more exact, SSL has been deprecated by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in favor of TLS, a newer protocol.
Similar to SSL, the TLS encryption protocol ensures confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity of data transmitted across computer networks. It is widely used in online browsing, email, and other online communications. TLS serves the same purpose as SSL, however, it performs more effectively and reliably. Several factors make it easier to have confidence in TLS, namely that it was created to solve documented SSL weaknesses and provide more robust, secure cipher suites and algorithm suites.
What Is the Difference Between TLS vs SSL?
There is no difference between SSL vs TLS in terms of results: encrypted protection for your site. In the context of certifications, you’ll frequently hear these words used interchangeably. However, technically speaking, TLS and SSL are distinct protocols.
Handshakes are used to establish encrypted connections in both protocols. If the other machine’s ID checks out, the two can proceed with a transaction. That’s the extent of their technical resemblances.
Each encryption protocol works differently to achieve the same goal. Compared to SSL and earlier TLS standards, the current TLS 1.3 standard has the following advantages:
- Improving page load times by lowering latency, which is a must in this day and age for every website
- Reducing the number of ways a hacker could infiltrate your site by eliminating unnecessary code bloat
- Using single handshakes instead of multiple, which reduces the number of ways someone could potentially undermine your security
Which Should You Use: TLS or SSL?
TLS is the only protocol that matters nowadays. SSL is out-of-date and considered unsafe, and earlier TLS versions are just as vulnerable. However, the TLS 1.3 specification states that TLS 1.2 can still be utilized under particular scenarios. Nevertheless, the use of an SSL protocol is now prohibited and should be avoided. The same is true for older versions of TLS, which will be obsolete in the near future. In fact, these protocols are disabled on modern servers.
Should You Use Both?
As a website owner, you may wonder if you’ll require both SSL and TLS certificates because of their similarity, history, and confusing names. This is not necessary. TLS and SSL certificates perform the same functions nowadays. Your website’s security is not provided by the certificate itself. Rather, the TLS protocol is enabled in the background so that it can perform its work.
How To Use TLS and SSL on Your WordPress Website
WordPress makes it simple to get started with SSL/TLS. The technical part is taken care of by plugins like Really Simple SSL and SSL Insecure Content Fixer. In any case, you’ll still need an SSL certificate. Here are some ways to get one:
- You can get a free SSL certificate from a service like ZeroSSL or SSL For Free
- Choose a web host that includes an SSL certificate in their services
- Use a CDN like Cloudflare to strengthen the security of your site
Once you’ve bought and installed the SSL certificate, you’ll still need to make changes to your WordPress dashboard. It’s as simple as logging into your WordPress account and going to Settings > General. When you’re in the WordPress Address and Site Address fields, switch HTTP to HTTPS. Then, save the updates and test your site to ensure everything is working correctly. Alternatively, you can make this process quicker and easier by using the plugins mentioned earlier.
In a nutshell, TLS is just a much-improved successor of SSL. They both serve the same purpose of making a website secure. Nowadays, attackers are actively targeting data that is exchanged over the internet. Using SSL and TLS, you can rest assured that your important data will be protected from unauthorized access.