TLS is a security protocol that ensures privacy and data integrity for internet communication. It is a standard practice for web app developers to implement TLS.
But, how does TLS work? Is it any different from SSL? Is it important to have a TLS certificate? Is TLS slowing down my browser?
If you have asked yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place! Take a look at the info-packed article below to have all of your TLS-related queries answered.
SSL VS TLS
First, let’s get some confusing terminology out of the way. People often get confused between SSL and TLS, however, the two are actually the same thing.
SSL stands for ‘Secure Sockets Later’. It is a protocol that was developed by Netscape in the late 1990s to provide an encrypted connection between your web browser and the website you are visiting.
TLS stands for ‘Transport Layer Security’ and it is a newer version of SSL. Generally, people still refer to security certificates as SSL certificates, because it is the more commonly used term.
However, when you purchase an SSL certificate now (such as from DigiCert), you are actually purchasing a TLS certificate.
What Is TLS?
TLS is a protocol that provides end-to-end security of data that is sent between applications online. If you use the internet frequently, you will be familiar with TLS thanks to its use in securing web browsing.
Specifically, the padlock icon that is featured in the top left hand corner of the browser when you are viewing a web page communicates that the web page has a TLS certificate, and thus, is safe.
It is worth mentioning that TLS doesn’t work to secure data on end systems. Rather, it makes sure that the sensitive data is delivered securely between sites. This helps to avoid alteration of the content or eavesdropping.
What Does TLS Do?
The main components to the TLS protocol are encryption, authentication, and integrity.
Encryption conceals the data that is being transferred by third parties. The authentication component makes sure that the parties involved in exchanging the data are exactly who they claim to be. Finally, integrity ensures that the data hasn’t been forged or tampered with.
How Does TLS Work?
The basic idea behind TLS is that it uses asymmetric cryptography to encrypt all traffic. The sender generates a public/private key pair using RSA (the most common method) and sends the public key to the recipient. The recipient then uses their private key to decrypt the message.
Once decrypted, the message can only be read by someone with access to the original private key. This means that even if the sender were to send the message unencrypted over the network, it would not be readable by anyone else.
This process is repeated for each piece of information exchanged between the two parties. As long as both sides have the correct keys, no one can intercept or alter any of the messages.
Why Use TLS?
If you’re wondering why you should use TLS instead of just sending plaintext data across the internet, here are some reasons why you should consider switching to TLS:
- Data Integrity – When you send data via email, text message, or other forms of communication, you don’t know if the person receiving the data has modified it in any way. With TLS, the data is protected against tampering.
- Confidentiality – Sending data over the internet without TLS protection allows others to see what you are doing. They might be able to steal your passwords, view your personal information, or otherwise gain access to your account. With TLS, however, the data is encrypted so that only those with the right keys can read it.
- Privacy – If you’re worried about people snooping on your communications, you need to make sure that your data isn’t visible to everyone. Using SSL/TLS certificates gives you peace of mind knowing that your data is safe.
- Security – It’s important to keep your computer and mobile devices safe from malicious software. By using an SSL/TLS certificate, you can ensure that your device is protected against viruses, malware, phishing attacks, and more
Why Should My Website Have An SSL Certification?
SSL certifications protect users from potential cyber-attacks. Without an SSL/TLS certificate, your users’ private information (e.g., credit card details), can be stolen or viewed by others.
It is estimated that 85% of users don’t trust sites without an SSL/TLS certification. Instead of using these sites, they move their business to competitors’ sites.
As such, it is very important that you have an SSL/TLS certification if you want to make your users and consumers feel safe as they engage with your content or purchase your merchandise online.
Additionally, TLS-protected HTTPS is very quickly becoming a standard practice for websites. In fact, Google Chrome is constantly trying to crack down on non-HTTPS websites.
If your site doesn’t have a TLS certification, Google Chrome will favor other websites over yours. Therefore, it is also within your best SEO interests that you get a TLS certificate.
Does TLS Affect Web Application Performance?
The short answer is yes. However, the effect is very minor with the latest versions of TLS. With innovative improvements to the service being made all of the time, TLS has become a very fast protocol and is continuing to get faster.
Additionally, there are few computational costs associated with TLS these days. As such, the benefits of TLS significantly outweigh the negatives.
How Do I Get Started With TLS Certificates?
There are two ways to obtain a TLS certificate:
With a self-signed certificate, you create the certificate yourself. This is usually done in order to test the functionality of the certificate before purchasing one from a third-party CA.
Third-Party Certificate Authority (CA)
A third-party certificate authority (CA) is responsible for creating and issuing the certificates. You pay them money in exchange for the ability to issue certificates.
It is worth mentioning that, if you use the services of a web hosting company (such as GoDaddy), TLS/SSL certifications are likely to be included in some of their packages. These will be given by a Third-Party Certificate Authority. This is probably the most simple option.
In conclusion, we hope this article helped you understand what TLS means, why you should care about having a TLS certificate, and how to go about getting one. Good luck with all of your website-related endeavors!