Cymax Media not only provides web development and web design but we also offer web hosting for many of our clients. We recommend every website use TLS (often referred to by the “old” name – SSL) but many of our clients don’t know what value of SSL or TLS (Transport Layer Security) provides or even if it’s necessary. We’ll try to explain it here.
TLS is a crucial technology for websites and why its important for multiple reasons:
Improved Search Rankings: For years SSL was only used on eCommerce websites. Back in 2014 Google began encouraging website owners to adopt SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) for their websites long before actively punishing those without it. The emphasis on HTTPS and website security became more pronounced over time. Google’s emphasis on website security is part of a broader industry trend aimed at making the web safer for users by promoting encryption and data protection. Today, search engines like Google consider SSL as a ranking factor. Websites without SSL will be punished with lower rankings while websites with SSL rank higher in search results. Google Chrome browser also marks non-secure websites with a “Not Secure” label in the browser, which can deter visitors. The Firefox web browser will similarly block users from web pages without HTTPS.
Bottom line. When TLS (Transport Layer Security) is properly installed and your website setup correctly you’ll see “HTTPS” in the address line. Having HTTPS as a part of your URL is a virtual requirement if you want any chance of having people access and search for your website using mainstream browsers and search engines.
Data Encryption: TSL encrypts data transmitted between a user’s web browser and the website’s server. This encryption ensures that sensitive information like login credentials, personal details, credit card numbers, and other private data remains confidential. TLS, uses encryption algorithms to encode each letter or character in a way that makes it extremely difficult for anyone to read the original data without the proper decryption keys. Without TSL, this data could be intercepted and read by malicious actors.
Data Integrity: TSL not only encrypts data but also ensures its integrity. It guarantees that the data sent or received hasn’t been tampered with during transit. If someone tries to modify the data being transmitted, the recipient’s browser will detect the tampering and prevent the user from accessing the compromised site.
Authentication: TSL certificates provide a means of verifying the identity of a website. When you visit a site with an TSL certificate, your browser performs a handshake with the website’s server to confirm its identity. This helps users trust that they are interacting with the legitimate website and not a malicious imposter.
Trust and Credibility: Websites with TSL certificates display a padlock icon and “https://” in the URL bar, indicating a secure connection. This visual cue instills trust in visitors, assuring them that their data is being protected. Conversely, users are often wary of sites without TSL, which can hurt a website’s credibility.
Compliance: Many regulatory requirements and industry standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), mandate the use of TSL to protect user data. Failing to implement TSLcould lead to legal and financial consequences for businesses.
Secure Login Forms: If your website has login forms or collects any form of user data, TSL is essential. Without it, login credentials and other sensitive information can be intercepted, potentially leading to account breaches.
E-commerce Security: For online stores and e-commerce websites, SSL is critical to secure online transactions. It protects customers’ financial information, which is essential for building trust and ensuring the security of online purchases.
Protection Against Phishing: TSL helps protect against phishing attacks where malicious actors create fake websites that mimic legitimate ones. Users are more likely to recognize a lack of HTTPS in the url on a phishing site.
Better Performance: Modern SSL/TLS protocols can also improve website performance. HTTP/2, for example, is often used with SSL to speed up website loading times.
In summary, TSL is a fundamental technology that not only protects sensitive data but also builds trust, ensures compliance with regulations, and enhances a website’s security, performance, and credibility. As a result, it’s considered a best practice for any website, regardless of its type or size.
A Brief History of SSL and TSL:
SSL: SSL was developed by Netscape in the 1990s as a protocol to secure data transmission over the internet. Over time, multiple versions of SSL were released, including SSL 2.0 and SSL 3.0. However, SSL suffered from several vulnerabilities and weaknesses, including the well-known “POODLE” and “Heartbleed” vulnerabilities.
TLS: In response to the security issues in SSL, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) developed TLS as an improvement and successor to SSL. TLS 1.0 was introduced in 1999, and subsequent versions, including TLS 1.1, TLS 1.2, and TLS 1.3, were developed to enhance security and address vulnerabilities. TLS 1.3 is the most recent and secure version.
TLS offers several advantages over SSL:
Enhanced Security: TLS incorporates stronger encryption algorithms and protocols, making it more resistant to attacks.
Improved Performance: TLS 1.3, in particular, is designed for improved performance and reduced latency, making it faster than older SSL versions.
Better Authentication: TLS provides better methods for verifying the identity of the communicating parties.
Forward Secrecy: TLS supports forward secrecy, which means that even if a private key is compromised in the future, past communications remain secure.
Today, when people refer to securing a website with an SSL certificate, they are often actually referring to using a TLS certificate. The terms SSL and TLS are sometimes used interchangeably in common language, but technically, TLS is the more accurate and up-to-date term for modern internet security protocols.