what is ssl

What is SSL?

SSL certificate stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which is an internet protocol for securing data transferring between two communication devices.

While attempting to connect to a server, SSL authenticates the website’s identity as a digital solution to ensure secure communication over the Internet.

Since data transmitted over HTTP protocol is not a secure internet connection, the SSL converts it to HTTPS and makes the data transition process safe.

SSL encryption meaning shows why it is essential to keep online communication secure.

Why to Use SSL?

SSL is used to establish an encrypted connection and authorize the identity of a website as an encryption-based Internet security protocol.

Information like credit card numbers, login credentials, sensitive data, and medical records can all be secured with the use of SSL.

To understand the SSL definition and why SSL is used, you need to know that SSL encrypts data transmitted over the web and is used for the following achievements:

  • Privacy.
  • Authentication.
  • Data Integrity.

Most browsers support SSL protocol to not let users make an insecure connection over HTTP.

Using SSL is one of the best ways to secure FTP, IMAP, and SMTP protocols.

As a result, a website that uses SSL will have Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) displayed in place of “HTTP” meaning the secure connection has been established.

How does SSL work?

Encryption, Authentication, and Certificate Validation are the three steps SSL goes through to work perfectly.

To have SSL certification means, having a key or using an encryption method such as SSL between the client and the server. (handshake process)

The steps below explain how SSL works in detail:

  • An attempt by a browser or server to connect to a website or web server secured with SSL.
  • A request from the browser or server to identify the webserver. (Server Identification)
  • Sending the SSL certificate from the webserver to the browser or server.
  • Validation of the certificate by the browser or server and sending a signal in case of approval. (Client Authentication)
  • Sending a digital confirmation from the web server and starting an encrypted connection.
  • Sharing encrypted data between browser or server and web server. (Encrypted Communication)

If you connect to websites secured by an SSL certificate, in addition to the HTTPS:// phrase in the URL, you will also see a padlock icon in the URL address bar.

Is SSL the same as HTTPS?

No. They are not the same but they both encrypt the data transmitted between a client and a server.

  • SSL is a cryptographic protocol and a component of HTTPS that is responsible for data encryption.
  • HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP that uses SSL/TLS to encrypt and protect data transmission.

SSL Certificates Types

Types of SSL Certificates

There are different types of SSL certificates in terms of validity. Some of them are as follows:

1. Extended Validation or EV SSL Certificate

  • This is the highest level of SSL security protocol in terms of using international standards for a comprehensive identity verification process.
  • After installing this certificate, the https:// phrase, a padlock icon, the country, and the company name are displayed in the URL address bar.
  • Using this certificate is the best way to prevent phishing and hacking of sensitive information from applications and websites.

2. Organization Validated or OV SSL Certificate

  • This is the second most trusted certification after the EV SSL, which helps to encrypt sensitive data during transactions.
  • The OV SSL provides additional verification by displaying the official name of the relevant organization by clicking on the padlock icon.
  • This prevents a third party’s misuse of the company name and helps the users feel more secure.

3. Domain Validated or DV SSL Certificate

  • In this type of security certificate, the providers will validate and verify your domain name.
  • While encrypting communications, they ensure the domain is at the applicant’s disposal.

4. Wildcard or WV SSL Certificate

  • These kinds of certificates provide secure communication with main domains and their unlimited subdomains.
  • A Wildcard certificate is much more affordable than several single-domain SSL certificates.

5. Multi-Domain or MD SSL Certificate

  • Using this certificate, you can secure up to 100 different domains and subdomains.
  • You can have the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) section to add, change, or delete the SANs if necessary.
  • All of the above certificates are also included in this type of SSL.

6. Unified Communications or UCC Certificate

  • These certificates are also considered multi-domain SSL.
  • UCC was originally designed to secure Microsoft Exchange and Live Communications servers.
  • Today, all websites can use Unified Communications certificates.

Which type of SSL is best?

While all SSL certificates provide the same level of encryption, you need to choose the type of SSL according to the specific needs of your website, validation level, and cost:

  • Personal bloggers, freelancers, and small websites must choose the Single Domain SSL Certificates (DV SSL).
  • websites with multiple subdomains must choose Wildcard SSL Certificates.
  • Businesses with multiple distinct domains must choose Multi-Domain SSL Certificates (MDC).
  • Large organizations, e-commerce sites, and financial institutions must choose Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL).

What type of SSL Certificate do I need?

Domain Validated or DV SSL Certificate:

If you have a personal website that only includes your resume, or if you use your website just for sharing some information with the audience.

Domain-Validated certificate:

It is more cost-effective. Therefore, you will not need to verify your company information to access this certificate.

If you own a company, organization, or NGO, you should choose OV certification. In this way, visitors will be sure of your company name as soon as they enter your website and click on the name of the certificate.

The wild card:

It works with DV and OV certifications. By providing a single certificate, it contributes to the security of all subdomains and the main domain of the website.

Difference between SSL and TLS?

SSL certificates use symmetric encryption to create a secure link between two systems. TLS protocol uses an asymmetric encryption method that makes it difficult to access information for hackers.

The TLS process is more time-consuming than SSL. So, the TLS protocol encryption algorithm is more powerful than the SSL security protocol.

The ports used in SSL and TLS protocols are different.

The main difference between these certifications is that TLS is more secure and efficient when creating public key and authentication messages.

TLS and SSL have the same function, have a glance at the SSL vs TLS table to know more:

DefinitionSecure Socket LayerTransport Layer Security
UsageProviding security between web servers and web browsers by encrypting data.providing security between web servers and web browsers by encrypting data.
Security AlgorithmMessage Digest Pseudo-random function
AuthenticationBasic security servicesStronger authentication mechanisms.
Supporting Fortezza algorithmYes.No.
SetupRequires Ports.Requires Protocols.

Is SSL the same as TLS?

SSL and TLS are related. TLS is the superior choice for securing communication over the Internet.

They both are cryptographic protocols that use a handshake process to initiate an encrypted connection to encrypt data and authenticate connections.

The more recent and safe variant of SSL is called TLS. Although it is still often used, the older word “SSL” refers to the protocol’s obsolete versions.

Why TLS is better than SSL?

Let’s check why TLS is more recommended than SSL:

  • TLS is more secure than SSL. The most recent version, TLS 1.3, is thought to be secure and has strong security measures.
  • TLS provides more cipher suite options and a faster handshake process.
  • TLS is better in encryption, compression, and latency.
  • TLS is the preferred choice for working with important data and encrypting data during communication.

Do you need both SSL and TLS?

A digital TLS/SSL certificate is needed by the majority of websites that transact business over the Internet to encrypt and safeguard sensitive information while it is being transmitted.

You can be confident that your data is being transmitted securely, whether you use TLS or SSL!

TLS is taking the place of SSL due to its enhanced security features.

Is SSL really Secure?

When a website has https:// in its URL, an SSL certificate secures it.

Unauthorized individuals cannot access important information thanks to SSL security.
Protecting login passwords, financial information, personal data, and other high-value targets calls for this in particular.

Because of known security flaws, SSL 2.0 and SSL 3.0 are less secure in the modern world.

How to detect SSL?

Using the below path, you can detect SSL/TLS security protocol:

  1. Open your preferred browser.
  2. Open the URL of the website you want to find out which version of SSL/TLS is being used.
  3. Press the F12 keyboard key.
  4. Navigate to the Security tab.
  5. Under Connections, you can view the current version of the protocol you are using.

Why do you need an SSL Certificate?

  1. As a website owner, you need an SSL certificate to create a secure link between your website and users’ devices and protect sensitive information from cyber-attacks.
  2. Through insecure connections, hackers around the world try to access clients’ sensitive information and use them to their advantage.
  3. SSL helps to secure login authorizations, bank accounts, or personal information in addition to many other important documents.
  4. Google may display a warning for websites without an SSL certificate, which can reduce user trust.
  5. Google now considers secure websites with SSL as a ranking factor. If your site doesn’t have SSL, it might not rank as high.

How to use SSL?

To use and set up an SSL certificate, you must first have a Linux VPS or a Windows VPS.

If you do not already have one, you must buy VPS server. Then, you are ready to:

  1. Purchase an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA).
  2. Install and set up the certificate on your server to use it.

How to get a Free SSL certificate?

To get a free SSL certificate, you need to sign up for any of the following websites and select the required option in the setting:

  • Let’s Encrypt

Let’s Encrypt is a popular, automated, and Free SSL certificate provided by the Internet Security Research Group.

This free SSL certificate was launched and supported by giant companies such as Google Chrome, Amazon, Facebook, and Cisco.

You can use the installation tutorial to install Let’s Encrypt SSL on CentOS 8.

  • Cloudflare

Cloudflare also is another company that is offering free SSL and TLS certificates among multiple domains.

  • SSL For Free

SSL For Free offers completely free SSL security certification using the Let’s Encrypt ACME server within minutes.

  • ZeroSSL

ZeroSSL offers 90 days free SSL certificate instantly. To do so, you just need to enter some details and pass an immediate authentication process.

After three months, you can repeat this process and get your free SSL again.

SSL Certificate providers

There are many SSL certificate providers; some of them are as follows:

  • Certum

Certum is a Polish-based company, which works in the digital security field. It is the largest and oldest SSL certification provider currently serving more than 50 countries.

  • Comodo

Comodo SSL is a successful SSL provider, which offers affordable prices.

  • Entrust

Entrust is an American reputable company that works in the field of digital security and provides SSL certificates quickly and smoothly.

  • GlobalSign

GlobalSign is a well-known company focused on organizational customers and those looking for PKI deployment.

  • GoDaddy

GoDaddy is a giant Web hosting company that also provides SSL with distinctive services and highly affordable prices.

Is SSL for free good?

Yes. When using a free SSL certificate, the padlock symbol can be found in all popular browsers.

A safe connection between the browser and the website is ensured by free SSL certificates, which offer the same level of encryption as premium certificates.

You can use free SSL certificates on blogs, personal websites, and small information sites. (If safety is important but not critical)

You need to consider that if you are using a free certificate, you cannot benefit from features such as warranties, technical support, and long validity periods.

Should I Enable SSL?

Yes. By enabling SSL, you can increase user privacy and guard against ISPs and core network operators altering your website while it’s being accessed.

As a cryptographic protocol, SSL helps in securing data transmission over the Internet.

A public key and a private key are required to enable an SSL certificate on your web server. These keys enable your server to encrypt and decrypt data in addition to verifying its authenticity.

What happens if I turn off SSL?

You will have no security.

A man-in-the-middle attack is one in which an attacker can snoop on and tamper with all of your traffic by creating a self-signed certificate with the same domain name and posing as the server in question.

SSL is necessary to protect online communications and uphold user confidence.

Where is SSL being used?

SSL is a cryptographic protocol that is essential and common to use in the following situations:

  • Securing communications between a client and a server.
  • Securing webmail servers, intranet traffic, online credit card transactions, and other communications over unprotected networks.
  • Securing login credentials, personally identifiable information, legal documents, and medical records.
  • Encrypting information transmitted between a browser and a website to safeguard a connection to the internet.

Is SSL for domain or website?

To improve safety and safeguard user information, The objective remains the same whether SSL is used for a website or a domain.

Web servers are equipped with SSL certificates to facilitate secure connections. A user’s browser looks for a valid SSL certificate when they visit a website.

If detected, the connection is encrypted to protect the privacy of the data while it is being transmitted.

Why do people still use SSL?

People still use SSL because of the following reasons:

  • Enhance the security of transmitted data and stop illegal access, data interception, and eavesdropping.
  • Since browsers authorize a website when it has an SSL certificate, users feel secure knowing that they are going to the official website and not a malevolent fake.
  • Secure websites are given priority by search engines like Google.
  • Users would see alarming alerts in the absence of SSL, which would damage their trust and experience.
  • All websites are increasingly using HTTPS by default.
  • Secure connections are necessary for the use of APIs by mobile apps.
  • SSL secures financial information, login credentials, and credit card data.
  • Intranets can be secured using SSL.

How to check SSL Certificates?

To check SSL certificates, you need to use the following methods:

  • Be sure the URL address begins with https://
  • Check if there is a padlock icon in the address bar or not.
  • Click on the padlock icon and study the SSL information
  • Use the SSL checker websites such as https://www.sslshopper.com/ssl-checker.html

Can SSL be hacked?

Although it is technically possible, the chances of this happening are extremely low. (If servers are configured properly having no outdated software)

Having an SSL enabled doesn’t guarantee that your website isn’t still susceptible to other threats, since SSL does not do the below options:

  • SSL fails to protect your website from additional server-side security flaws.
  • The data kept on the server does not get any more secure by SSL.
  • SSL doesn’t improve the security of browsers.

Is SSL better than VPN?

SSL and VPN are not designed for the same purposes. So, this question could not be answered with ”Yes” or ”No”.

The function, OSI model layer, access control, and implementation of SSL and VPN are different.

So, depending on your network requirements, compatibility considerations, and access control needs, you can decide whether to use an SSL certificate or VPN.

Is SSL a type of VPN?

No. SSL is not a type of VPN.

It is a protocol that certain VPNs utilize to protect the connection between the user and the VPN server.

SSL VPN is a kind of virtual private network that encrypts user and VPN server connections using the SSL protocol.

The VPN server and the user’s device create an encrypted tunnel that enables remote users to access a private network safely.


Certainly, you need an SSL certificate because due to the encryption function of algorithms, the SSL certificate ensures that the data transferred between two systems remains unreadable.

According to the SSL certificate meaning, using an SSL certificate is one of the safest ways to help establish a secure connection between the web server and the client.

Creating a strong password is also crucial for data security and preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information.

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