TLS vs SSL: What’s the Difference ?

Online security is vital these days if we want to avoid becoming victims of unscrupulous malware, spyware, and phishing attacks. With internet criminals becoming more and more crafty, sophisticated and highly organized, the only way to ensure adequate protection is to make sure that your online activities are protected by the latest security protocols.

What is the difference? TLS vs SSL?

The basic differences are rather small and center around the technical operations but in general, TLS uses a much stronger encryption base and can also adapt to different ports. Newer versions of TLS (1.2 and 1.3) have largely replaced the older, more vulnerable SSL technology. Netscape, the original developers of SSL protocols aimed it at the need to transmit information privately.

This would ensure messages remained hidden and ensure the servers on the network were not vulnerable to online hacking attacks. SSL works by hiding your keystrokes on private and public networks on web browsers, but SSL can also be used with email servers and, for example, instant messengers. Usually, only the server identity is ensured while the client remains unauthenticated. In mutual authentication, TLS-PSK or Secure Remote Password (SRP) protocol are used, which provides good security.

TLS (Transport Layer Security) was invented by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in 2014 to replace and improve on the SSL protocol. It’s very often used in email programs but these days encrypts almost any online transaction. Both protocols are used when activity may be risky, for example when you are checking data on an unsecured network – for example, checking emails.

SSL v3.0 technology has been replaced after it was revealed to be vulnerable to attacks. The infamous POODLE vulnerability showed that SSL v3.0 is not reliable and SSL has been disabled on web servers globally and replaced by its updated, more secure cousins TLS 1.2. and 1.3. Some organizations still allow SSL v3 to persist for IMAP but should take steps to remove that support so that TLS can be enabled.

TLS vs SSL protocols “handshake”

The main differences lie in the “handshake” used to carry out each protocols. The basis of the protocols aren’t that different, it is the way in which the data is encrypted that is the crux.

TLS technology uses much stronger encryption algorithms (the secret cloaking device)and this allows it to operate on different ports.

Additionally, TLS and SSL are both are cryptographic protocols designed and keep connection private because symmetric cryptography is used to encrypt the data and essentially hide it from attacking software.

Pros and cons of TLS technology

The positives of using TLS protocols far outweigh any negative aspects. First and foremost is the ability to protect your data, personal information and (for business owners) their client information from prying eyes.

These days consumers are one phishing or spyware attack away from having their bank account or credit cards infiltrated or being the victims of identity fraud. TSL also allows individuals to protect themselves from being listened to when using their server by means of their web browser. It can also prevent other issues such as advertising being illegally inserted.

Users can tell if they are using a secure TLS protocol in a few ways. Usually, the “http” in the address line becomes “https,” and the “padlock” appears in the status bar of your browser window. If you access your online bank account or payment service like PayPal or Google Checkout, chances are you’ll see this. This way you can be sure that your information is likely safe and can’t be read.

New versions, old versions

TLS v1.1, v1.2, and v1.3 are more secure than SSL protocols and have addressed weaknesses present in SSL v3.0 and TLS v1.0. In older versions, malicious programs like BEAST wreaked havoc but in newer versions attacks like this and others can be easily prevented.

The number of websites that still use outdated SSL protocols (SSL v3.0) is around 11%. Roughly 92% are already providing support for TLS v1.2+. The latest statistics can be viewed at SSLLabs.

Using TLS on Google, Gmail

Most modern browsers offer support for TLS 1.0. These can be disabled or enabled as the user sees fit using the settings features. Many applications no longer supporting SSL technology are causing the installation of TSL protocols mandatory. TLS can be enabled in Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, Opera, Mozilla, and Apple Safari.

TLS and SSL use certificate authorities. If a browser requests secure pages and adds the “s” onto “http,” a public key and security certificate is sent out. Next, 3 things are checked: 1) a trusted source for the certificate; 2) the validity of the certificate; 3) that the certificate is linked to the site.

How to get it

If you’re still not convinced about the pros of TLS vs SSL protocols you can opt for trying it out free. You can opt for open-source, free software which is stable, safe, and easy to use.

TLS 1.3

The latest version of TLS protocol – available from August 2018 – is slowly being introduced and will eventually fulfill the function of its predecessors on most websites, email programs, and browsers.

Programmers can use the OpenSSL, NSS, or GnuTLS. Microsoft Windows offers SSL and TLS as part of Secure Channel. Delphi programmers can use the Indy library. Java programmers can use JSSE.

In a nutshell

We’re living in the time of mega-data breaches. Is TLS better than SSL? In a word: Yes. TLS has worked out the bugs of its predecessors to ensure a much tighter security fingerprint than ever before.

TLS protocols are the new wave of internet security and should be embraced if you want to keep pace with new developments, both positive and malicious.


Author’s Bio

Alex Mitchell,  the author of this article,  is a  Cybersecurity enthusiast, WordPress guru, data-safety tools tester with over 10 yrs experience at VPNpro.



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