Data reigns the world. Big data, data analysis, data storage – all of these are big business. Now, this data could contain sensitive, private information. Names, date of birth data, card data, social security details, login credentials, photographs, videos – are sensitive information and if they fall into the wrong hands they could be used for malicious activities.
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What are SSL Certificate and TLS protocols
To ensure data security enterprises and organizations worldwide utilize SSL/TLS protocols. These protocols ensure the security and integrity of the data being transmitted. A secure, private channel is created between the server and the browser of the end user. The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol and the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol are cryptographic protocols that play a critical role in protecting data.
SSL Certificates is the predecessor of TLS. Both are commonly referred to as “SSL”. These protocols ensure that secure communications take place over the computer network.
Difference between SSL and TLS protocols
The terms SSL/TLS are quite commonly used, but most users do not know the purpose and difference between these two protocols.
- Many versions of these SSL/TLS protocols are being used in numerous applications such as web browsing, email, and messaging.
- The industry defined SSL as versions 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, which was then continued as TLS 1.0 to TLS 1.3.
- The latest is TLS 1.3 and it has been adopted by major browsers and is being adopted by other entities, considering the strong security that it offers.
TLS is a more appropriate naming as the security is focussed on the data transport layer. Further on, all SSL certificates must be rightly be called as TLS certificates, but due to the popularity of the term SSL, even now all SSL/TLS certificates are addressed to as SSL certificates. Another development is that these certificates are being termed as “certs”.
Purpose of SSL Certificate
SSL certs or certificates or just certs encompass cryptographic algorithms and functions. Depending on the functionality they ensure the integrity of the data, ensure privacy (prevent eavesdropping). In some applications, they serve to identify the authenticity of an entity – such as for a web server or website to prove that it is an authentic website and that it is the website desired by the visitor.
There are malicious entities that can redirect a visitor to a spoofed website that looks as good as the original. These websites serve to dupe visitors to share their private credentials such as login identification details and passwords.
There is a massive market for stolen data. These are sold on the dark web where they can be bought. Stolen data is used in different geographical locations. The transactions are done in different time zones, which makes it difficult to observe the transactions when they are done.
By the time the owner of the card observes the unauthorized fraudulent transactions and blocks the card, the balance in the card would have been wiped out or a huge bill may have been run up. It may take quite some time to recover the money, but anyways it is an unnecessary hassle.
SSL Certificate and Encrypted Communication
SSL ensures encrypted communication between two points – two servers, a server, and client, etc…, Encryption prevents any third-party from reading or tampering with the data that is being exchanged/transmitted. Data that is transmitted in unencrypted form would be in human-readable form and can be read, modified and stolen.
Modified emails can have severe implications in the corporate sector – for example fund transfer authorization emails, and confidential business transaction emails.
Role of Browsers
Browsers store the root certificate of trusted Certificate Authorities. When a browser makes contact with the server of a website requesting a secure connection, then the server returns its SSL certificate to the browser. The browser now checks this certificate against the certificates in the store and a connection will be established only if the authentication is successful.
SSL/TLS plays an important role in securing communication between entities and for authentication. They provide trust to a website, which is essential for sensitive communication requirements.