What is SSL, and How does it work

The protocols SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security), are used to create secure connections between networked computers.

The terms “SSL” or “SSL/TLS” are still frequently used to describe these interconnected technologies, despite the fact that the SSL protocol was deprecated with the introduction of TLS 1.0 in 1999.

SSL is the industry standard technology for maintaining an internet connection’s security and protecting any sensitive data that is being sent between two systems.

It does this by preventing criminals from reading and changing any information transferred, including potentially personal information.

The two systems can be client-server (such as a shopping website and browser) or server-to-server (such as an application with personally identifiable information or payroll data).

SSL had numerous issues, and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) stopped recommending its use in 2015.

The Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol took its place. While SSL is still used today, primarily in legacy systems, TLS has largely replaced it in terms of securing internet connections.

TLS is a cryptographic protocol that provides communication security over a computer network.

Although the protocol is widely used in voice-over IP, email, and instant messaging, its use to secure HTTPS is still the most widely known.

The main goal of the TLS protocol is to increase security, including confidentiality (privacy), integrity, and authenticity between two or more communicating computer applications by using cryptography, such as the use of certificates.

It operates in the presentation layer and is made up of the TLS record and TLS handshake protocols, two separate layers.

What is SSL, and Why is it Used?

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an Internet security protocol based on encryption. Netscape was invented in 1995 to ensure privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications.

A networking protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is used to secure connections between web clients and web servers over insecure networks like the Internet.

The SSL protocol was the first widely adopted protocol for safeguarding online transactions between customers and businesses when it was formally introduced by Netscape in 1995.

Ultimately, it was put to use at the network transport layer to protect authentication and encryption for other applications.

SSL protects sensitive information by ensuring that any data transferred between users and websites, or between two systems, remains unreadable.

SSL scrambles data in transit, preventing hackers from reading it as it travels across the connection.

SSL is primarily used to protect sensitive data sent over the Internet by encrypting it so that only the intended recipient can access it.

This is significant because data sent over the Internet must travel through multiple computers before it can reach the intended server.

If your sensitive data is not encrypted using an SSL certificate, any computer between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords, among other details.

The information becomes unreadable to all parties except the server you are sending it to when an SSL certificate is used. This guards against identity theft and hacking.

With the right SSL certificate, authentication is also offered in addition to encryption. You can be confident that you are sending information to the correct server and not to a phony entity attempting to steal your data.

Is HTTPS the Same as SSL?

No, HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) are not the same thing. SSL and HTTPS aren’t quite the same, but they are connected.

To put it as simply as possible, HTTPS is the union of the standard HTTP protocol with either SSL or TLS, and the two work together to guarantee that any Internet user has a more secure, reliable, and enjoyable browsing experience.

It is safe to use HTTPS instead of old HTTP. It implements TLS as an addition to the HTTP protocol. You can use it to safely access websites and web-based applications.

With HTTPS, you can be certain that nobody will read your private information and that you are connecting to a legitimate website rather than a fake one.

When a server and browser are communicating with one another, HTTPS, a combination of HTTP and SSL/TLS, is used to encrypt that communication.

In contrast, SSL is a security protocol that is used to create a private, encrypted connection between a client and a server. It is used to encrypt data sent over the internet in order to prevent interception or tampering.

SSL is a cryptographic protocol that guarantees safe and secure online communication.

Besides HTTPS, other app-specific protocols can also be secured with TLS/SSL. These protocols include NNTP, SMTP, FTP, and XMPP.

The URL of a website that uses SSL/TLS begins with “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP.”

SSL and HTTPS are fundamentally related to one another. The term “HTTP over SSL” is used. The website transmits data using HTTPS when an SSL certificate is configured with it.

Where are SSL Types?

For a website to use HTTPS encryption, it needs to have an SSL certificate, also known more precisely as a TLS certificate.

An SSL certificate includes the public key for the website, the domain name for which it was issued, the digital signature of the certificate authority that issued it, as well as other crucial details.

The varieties of SSL certificates are numerous. Depending on the type, a single certificate may be used for one or more websites:

  • Single-domain :
    • A single-domain SSL certificate is valid for only one domain (the name of a website, for example, www.cybersecuritynews.com ).
    • It cannot be used to authenticate any other domain, including subdomains of the one for which it was issued.
  • Wildcard :
    • Wildcard SSL certificates are only valid for one domain, just like single-domain certificates. But it also includes the subdomains of that domain. 
    • For example, a wildcard certificate could cover www.cybersecuirtynews.com, blog.cybersecuritynews.com, while a single-domain certificate could only cover the first.
  • Multi-domain :
    • Several different domains are listed on a single SSL certificate known as a multi-domain certificate, or MDC. A certificate can be shared between domains using an MDC even if they are not subdomains of one another.

Additionally, different levels of validation are available for SSL certificates. A validation level is similar to a background check in that it varies depending on the thoroughness of the check.

  • Domain Validation :
    • This is the simplest and least expensive level of validation. All a company has to do is demonstrate ownership of the domain.
    • They can accomplish this by changing the DNS record associated with the domain, or by simply sending an email to the CA. The procedure is frequently automated. 
    • It’s a good option for blogs, portfolio websites, or small businesses that simply want to launch HTTPS quickly, especially if a business doesn’t sell products via its website (for example, a restaurant or coffee shop).
  • Organization Validation : 
    • This is a more active process in which the CA contacts the person or company directly and may carry out additional research. Users can feel more confident using these certificates.
    • SSL certificates with Organization Validation are more reliable for users than those with Domain Validation because they include the name and address of the organization.
  • Extended Validation : 
    • Before the SSL certificate can be issued, an organization must undergo a thorough background check.
    • The CA will verify the organization’s existence, its legal registration as a business, its presence at the listed address, and other factors. 
    • Extended Validation SSL certificates are more reliable than other types of SSL certificates, but this level of validation requires the most time and money.
    • EVC is particularly important if a website or application handles sensitive user data, like passwords, credit card numbers, or names and addresses.

How is SSL Used for Security?

SSL security uses algorithms to encrypt the data, making it unreadable while being transferred between sites, systems, and/or users, to protect the sensitive data while it is in transit.

There are many applications that use SSL security protocols, including voice over IP (VoIP), chatting and instant messaging, email, and web browsing.

SSL is a security protocol that specifies which algorithms should be used to encrypt data. The secure socket layer SSL protocol evaluates the link as well as the data to transmit and establishes encryption parameters for each.

The SSL security protocol creates secure connections between clients and servers.

Data can be sent in plain text when using the web server and the browser’s default mode of communication. Because hackers can see the information they intercept, this makes users vulnerable to them.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts sensitive data, such as passwords, social security numbers, and bank account information, to stop unauthorized users from accessing the data even if they see it.

Users can tell if a secure connection is active by looking for the lock icon on SSL-secured websites and the “https” address.

An Extended Validation SSL-secured website is one that has a green address bar. These visual cues are sometimes referred to as EV indicators.

SSL/TLS protocols allow for the encryption of a connection between two mediums (client-server). Encryption ensures that no third party can read or tamper with the data.

Public-key cryptography is used in the SSL/TLS protocols. This technology, in addition to encryption, is used to confirm the identities of communicating parties.

If the server’s private key is compromised, the client is safeguarded by a mechanism known as perfect forward secrecy (PFS).

The authentication feature of SSL ensures that the client is communicating with the intended server and not a fake one.   

Additionally, SSL offers integrity, which guarantees that the client will be able to detect any data tampering that occurs during transmission.

What are the Advantages of SSL?

In order to connect a user’s browser to a website, a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is used. An SSL certificate from a trustworthy authority is incorporated into the website’s software to protect it. These certificates are recognized by web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and others.

SSL is used to encrypt and decrypt personal data when it needs to be sent and received. SSL encrypts data before it is sent and decrypts it after it has been received.

  • Security:
    • SSL encrypts the data transmitted between the client and server, ensuring that it remains confidential and secure.
    • This prevents unauthorized access and ensures that sensitive data such as passwords, credit card numbers, and personal information are protected from prying eyes.
  • Trust:
    • SSL certificates are issued by trusted third-party organizations called Certificate Authorities (CAs).
    • By using SSL, websites can display their SSL certificates to establish trust with visitors. This gives visitors the assurance that their data is being transmitted securely to a legitimate website.
  • Authentication:
    • SSL provides authentication by verifying the identities of the server and, on rare occasions, the client.
    • This ensures that the client is communicating with the correct server and not a forgery. Man-in-the-middle attacks require authentication.
  • Cost-effective:
    • SSL certificates are inexpensive, and many web hosting companies provide them for free.
    • As a result, it is a cost-effective option for small businesses and individuals looking to secure their websites.
  • Search engine ranking:
    • SSL-enabled websites are given preference by Google and other search engines.
    • Websites that use SSL are more likely to appear higher in search engine results than those that do not.
  • Compliance:
    • SSL is required for e-commerce websites by various compliance standards, including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
    • For the security of customer data and to avoid fines, compliance with these standards is essential.
  • Compatibility:
    • SSL is a widely accepted standard for secure internet communication because it is supported by all popular web browsers and operating systems.

What are the Two Protocols of SSL?

There are two sub-protocols that make up the SSL protocol: the SSL record protocol and the SSL handshake protocol.

Data that is transmitted over the internet is encrypted using the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol. 

By intercepting SSL traffic and checking it for malicious content before allowing it to pass through, firewalls can use SSL to secure communications between clients and servers.

The firewall acts as a proxy and intercepts SSL traffic when a client starts an SSL session with a server. It then decrypts the traffic so you can see what’s inside. 

The traffic is then forwarded to the server after being re-encrypted by the firewall using its own SSL certificate. 

The firewall then decrypts the data once more, checks it for malicious content, and re-encrypts it using the client’s SSL certificate before sending it back to the client as a response from the server.

This method of using SSL allows firewalls to scan SSL traffic for malicious content without compromising the security of communications between clients and servers. 

While still allowing legitimate traffic to flow through unhindered, this helps defend against attacks like malware and phishing.

When a server and client both support SSL, they must first establish a connection using the SSL handshake protocol, which uses the SSL record protocol to exchange a series of messages.

  • SSL Record Protocol:
    • The encryption and decryption of data transferred between the client and server is handled by this protocol.  
    • To protect the privacy and accuracy of the data transmitted, symmetric encryption is used. 
    • Large messages are also broken up into smaller packets by the record protocol, which then reassembles them at the other end.
  • SSL Handshake Protocol:
    • This protocol handles the preliminary contracting between the client and server to create a secure connection. 
    • The client and server exchange data during the handshake process, including the encryption algorithms, keys, and the version of SSL/TLS they support. 
    • The authenticity of the server’s identity is also checked by the handshake protocol.
Work done by a Team Of Security Experts from Cyber Writes (www.cyberwrites.com) - World’s First Dedicated Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) Platform for Cybersecurity. For Exclusive Cyber Security Contents, Reach at: [email protected]