What is SSL encryption?

In this article we will learn about SSL encryption. Let’s take a look at what it stands for and it’s meaning.

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an encryption-based Internet security protocol. It was first developed by Netscape in 1995 for the purpose of ensuring privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications. SSL is the predecessor to the modern TLS encryption used today. 

Now you may also be wondering what TLS is. TLS or Transport Layer Security, the successor of the now-deprecated Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), is a cryptographic protocol designed to provide communications security over a computer network. Several versions of the protocol are widely used in applications such as email, instant messaging, and voice over IP, but its use as the Security layer in HTTPS remains the most publicly visible.


How does SSL/TLS work?
  • In order to provide a high degree of privacy, SSL encrypts data that is transmitted across the web. This means that anyone who tries to intercept this data will only see a garbled mix of characters that is nearly impossible to decrypt.
  • SSL initiates an authentication process called a handshake between two communicating devices to ensure that both devices are really who they claim to be.
  • SSL also digitally signs data in order to provide data integrity, verifying that the data is not tampered with before reaching its intended recipient.
  • There have been several iterations of SSL, each more secure than the last. In 1999 SSL was updated to become TLS.
  • Nowadays, SSL and TLS are often referred to as a group (e.g. SSL/TLS) or interchangeably.
  • Client-server applications use the TLS protocol to communicate across a network in a way designed to prevent eavesdropping and tampering.


Where did SSL come from?

SSL first came from and how did we get to where we are today with TLS? SSL version 1.0 was developed by Netscape in the early 1990s. But due to security flaws, it was never released to the public. According to my recent research it states that the first public release of SSL was SSL 2.0 in February 1995. While it was an improvement over the unreleased SSL 1.0, SSL 2.0 also included its own set of security flaws, which led to a complete redesign and the subsequent release of SSL version 3.0 one year later. SSL version 3.0 was the last public release and was eclipsed in 1999 when TLS was introduced as a replacement.


Internet Security and Secure Online Transactions

As companies and organizations offer more online services and transactions, internet security becomes both a priority and a necessity of their online transactions to ensure that sensitive information, such as a credit card number is only being transmitted to legitimate online businesses.

In order to keep customer information private and secure, companies and organizations need to add SSL certificates to their websites to enable secure online transactions.


Benefits when using SSL/TLS
  • Encryption: Whenever you or your users enter information at your site, that data passes through multiple touchpoints before it reaches its final destination. Without SSL/TLS, malicious actors can eavesdrop or alter this data.
  • Authentication: A working SSL/TLS connection ensures that data is sent to and received from the correct server, rather than a malicious “man in the middle.” This is to prevent malicious actors from falsely impersonating a site.
  • Data Integrity: SSL/TLS connections ensure that there’s no loss or alteration of data during transport by including a message authentication code, or MAC. This is to ensure that the data that gets sent is received without any changes or malicious alterations.


SSL/TLS offers benefits to sites that process sensitive information like credit cards or banking details, but this does not mean that it is limited only to these areas.

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