SSL and TLS - Differences and Similarities 2022

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Anyone who frequently uses the Internet will come across abbreviations like "TLS" and "SSL". Both letter abbreviations are sometimes combined in some cases.

For example, if you want to host a website or manually configure an e-mail client, you can't avoid these abbreviations. The two protocols differ significantly from one another.

The importance of SSL

importance of ssl

The abbreviation "SSL" stands for "Secure Socket Layer", while "TLS" stands for "Transport Layer Security". Both encryption protocols serve the transport layer of the World Wide Web.

The protocols' function is to encrypt data streams between client and server.

If communication takes place over the encrypted transport layer, the protocol name is followed by a "s." For example, "HTTP" becomes "HTTPS". When an SSL certificate is used, the abbreviation "SSL" is also used on the Internet.

This certificate is required if a website wishes to communicate using "HTTPS." This requirement, however, applies to the majority of websites today.

History of SSL

The SSL protocol first introduced in the mid-1990s. Following the discovery of numerous serious security flaws, the improved version 2.0 was released, followed by version 3.0 the following year.

The Internet Engineering Task Force, also known as the IETF, later discarded the SSL 3.0 variant. This was caused by new security gaps.

The successor protocol TLS

TLS is considered the successor protocol to SSL. The improved version of SSL 3.0, first applied in 1999, was initially referred to as SSL 3.1. 

Today's current version is known as TLS 1.3. The move from SSL 3.0 to TLS 1.0 initially involved a few changes. Nevertheless, the differences were classified as good enough to prevent cooperation between TLS 1.0 and SSL 3.0.

Compared to SSL 3.0, TLS 1.0 improved application interoperability and cryptographic security.

The TLS 1.2 version commonly used today provides increased security against hacker attacks and offers more flexibility for the encryption used. 

Today's TLS is significantly more effective, flexible, and secure than the SSL of the past. However, because the abbreviation "SSL" is much better known than "TLS", providers of routers or client software often use the term "SSL" or the double term "SSL/TLS".

However, this abbreviation usually refers to the current TLS version called "TLS 1.3".

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