The world of systems and technology is filled with terms that the average person may hear every once in a while and yet never fully know what they mean. For some people, phrases like SSL, TLS, and HTTPS have very little bearing on their day-to-day lives. However, if you own a website and are interested in its overall well-being, you should have a solid sense of what each of these mean.
That’s the focus of today’s article. We will be talking about what each of these refers to and how they pertain to you, as well as the security of your website. With a little help from the Vervology Team, you’ll be speaking like a web developer in no time.
What is SSL?
SSL stands for secure sockets layer. Basically, it encrypts data to ensure that it can’t be read or intercepted by an outside source. It’s a way of keeping information on your website safe and secure.
An example of where this is important is if a customer is entering their credit card information onto your site to complete a purchase. They want to know that their data will not be stolen and you want customers to know that they can trust your site.
Furthermore, an SSL certificate is what allows a website to transfer from HTTP to HTTPS, adding another security measure to the existing site. It basically authenticates the website as being real and serving the purpose that it claims to.
What is TLS?
The acronym TLS stands for transport layer security. It serves the same purpose as SSL, except it is an upgraded version. Many people will use the two interchangeably, but TLS is the industry standard as of today, and therefore the most prevalent technology.
TLS solved some of the security problems of SSL, addressing some of its key vulnerabilities.
What’s the Difference Between SSL and TLS?
While the two seem incredibly similar due to their key functionalities, SSL and TLS have a few major differences, the most important being that TLS is newer and more secure. Many browsers will decrease user experience on a website if that website is still under old SSL protocols, ultimately hurting your site’s traffic and turning visitors away.
Why are SSL and TLS Important?
Any time sensitive information is being shared on a website, SSL/TLS are absolutely necessary to ensure this data is protected and cannot be intercepted. SSL/TLS prove your server’s identity and authenticate your user’s experience. It shows that you are who you say you are and can be trusted.
SSL/TLS are also industry standards. For example, there are some guidelines you must meet in order to accept credit card information for completing purchases on your website. Having a valid SSL/TLS certificate is an important part of meeting these guidelines.
What is HTTPS?
When typing in a URL, it will usually start with either HTTP or HTTPS. The s in HTTPS means “secure,” that your website is safe to use. Having this s sends an immediate signal to users that your website is authentic and guarded. It sends an immediate message about the professional nature of your site.
On the flip side, if the s is missing, users may receive a message from their browser stating that the site isn’t secure. This is an overall bad look for your website.
Why SSL/TLS Matters For HTTPS
In order to have the s in HTTPS for your web domain, you need to have an SSL/TLS certificate. A site cannot be authenticated, and thereby labelled as “secure,” without the SSL/TLS certificate. It provides a safety net for your users to ensure that nobody can intercept any of the personal information and messages they may be submitting through your site.
An SSL/TLS certificate can be obtained from a Certificate Authority. If you’re interested in getting one, talk to whoever may be hosting your site, and they should be able to configure it for you. This process should be approached by someone experienced with configuring websites, so it’s always best to ask for help if you’re unsure about how to proceed.
SSL/TLS and SEO
Google has said in the past that they want to prioritize safety for individuals online. This automatically boosts websites that use HTTPS over HTTP, since the s is an automatic signal about the safety of that site.
For this reason, sites who have an SSL/TLS certificate will almost consistently be ranked higher than those without, all things being equal. That means that you may be losing customers to competitors who have secure websites, as they will be showing up in Google higher up in page rankings, as well as more often.
Putting It All Together
SSL, TLS, and HTTPS are all intricately designed in order to ensure the performance and security of your websites, as well as that of its visitors. They’re important factors to be vigilant of, especially since lacking any of them could send some pretty clear, negative signals to your customers and site visitors.
If you ever have any questions about the security of your website and what it could be doing better, reach out to Vervology. We are experts at solving unique problems for small businesses’ technical needs, and we would be happy to help you out. Get in touch to schedule a free consultation.