TLS, which refers to Transport Layer Security, firstly appeared as “TLS 1.0” version in the year of 1999. SSL, the abbreviation of Secure Socket Layer, is originally introduced by Netscape in early 1990s. Both of TLS and SSL are well-known protocols that used to supply secure connections between a server and a client by running over a reliable communication protocol named HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).
In fact, TLS is the successor to SSL, and the two protocols often used interchangeably. Plus, the first release of TLS sometimes refers to “SSL 3.0” version. Apart from that, they share mutual similarities at other aspects. To figure out the significant similarities and differences existing between TLS and SSL, let’s move to the following parts.
Firstly, TLS is similar to SSL in terms of general functions, and both of them work to ensure your data well-protected when transferring over the Internet. For instance, as data that goes through TLS and SSL can be encrypted with a secure algorithm (refers to an intensive procedure for calculations), there is no way for a middle man to intercept your credit card number or sensitive business information online. In the meantime, the two protocols both commit to making your communication not interfered by anyone else eavesdropping on the transactions.
On the other hand, there are a good number of differences between TLS and SSL. To sum up, they differ from each other from three main aspects, including security, encryption mechanisms and message settings. Now, we will explain the mentioned disparities one by one in below.
TLS VS SSL > Security
Firstly, let’s start with the top-concerned security. Although the SSL 3.0 version is comparable to TLS 1.0 edition at this respect, the TLS 1.1 and 1.2 far beyond all versions of SSL out of question. In the further, SSL 3.0 release turns to be outdated and have some inevitable vulnerabilities, such as the widely-acknowledged POODLE vulnerability. What’s worse, the mentioned fatal POODLE vulnerability has kept many worldwide websites away from SSL 3.0.
On the other hand, TLS is a much newer and refined system. Plus, the mentioned TLS 1.1 and 1.2 versions fix many vulnerabilities existing in SSL 3.0 edition. For instance, the well-known BEAST attack is still a threat for older SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 protocols. But the newer 1.2 and 1.3 TLS versions, if configured properly, can wipe out the BEAST and other kinds of attacks with added encryption methods and stronger ciphers.
TLS VS SSL > Encryption Mechanisms
Encryption mechanism stands for the process of encoding information or messages so that only specified people can read it. Generally speaking, there are no dramatic differences between SSL 3.0 and TLS in encryption mechanisms. However, SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 are not interoperate, even though TLS 1.0 version can back down to SSL 3.0.
Normally, TLS makes use of the Handshake protocol to make server and client negotiate on encryption. This protocol is made up of four main steps, including Server Hello, Client Hello, Server Key Exchange and Server Hello Done. However, SSL builds a secure connection between the client and the server by port method, such as the port 443 for https.
TLS VS SSL > Message Settings
Apart from that, SSL and TLS are different at message settings. Firstly, SSL applies the authentication codes of SHA and MD5 in many implementations, while TLS uses MAC and H-MAC which can run on any hash function (used to map digital data). Besides, SSL has a complicated procedure to pass some certificate verification messages, while TLS includes those messages in the initial Handshake protocol.
Thirdly, SSL doesn’t generate a alter message for a client who has no certificate. However, TLS will automatically create a “No Certificate” alter message for clients having no related certificates. Lastly, SSL creates finished messages by using a cipher suite (refers to a combination of encryption and key change algorithms), while TLS generates those finished messages by PRF output.
TLS VS SSL > Final Conclusion – TLS Is More Recommendable
To sum up, TLS is identical to SSL 3.0 version and shares some functionality traits in common. On the other hand, the two protocols are completely different at many aspects, and TLS obviously has a much refined and user-friendly encryption system. In this case, it is recommendable for people who are going to configure a secure and newest server to choose the TLS protocol.
To be frank, to choose a secure protocol is not enough to keep malicious attacks away from your sites. Plus, to configure a server or a program is time-consuming especially for beginners. Thus, it is advisable to get your websites backed by a trustworthy and powerful web host. Having reviewed hundreds of hosting providers online, we highly recommend you to go with the following web hosting solutions.