In our modern digital world, organizations and individuals are constantly exchanging data and information on the web, whether it be sensitive information, personally identifiable information (PII), or data that needs to be kept away from prying eyes.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What is an SSL port?” or wondered what the difference between SSL and TLS was after reading about it online, then this is the guide for you.
We’re going to dive into SSL ports in detail, describe TCP ports, look at how SSL works with HTTPS (secure hypertext transfer protocol) connections, and explore the benefits of SSL certificates.
What Is an SSL Port?
An SSL Port, also known as a Secured Port, is a data transfer tunnel that uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates and advanced encryption to protect internet connections and keep sensitive information safe.
In other words, whenever you access a website, use an application, or interact with any device that sends or receives information from an arbitrary location on the internet and your local device, an SSL port is intended to keep the information you send from being intercepted by malicious actors or modified in-transit. This is done by encrypting the communications between the client and the server, creating a secure connection.
What Are TCP Ports?
TCP ports are connections that comply with standardized Transmission Control Protocols, allowing communication between two devices over the internet or a specific network.
Some of the most commonly used TCP ports that you may encounter or already be familiar with include:
- 21 – FTP
- 22 – SFTP/SSH
- 80 – HTTP
- 443 – SSL
- 990 – FTPs
- 3306 – MySQL
Each of these TCP ports are default port numbers, including the default SSL port values that are dedicated to a specific communication type. Whether that’s allowing file transfers, secure file transfers, secure shell connections, or even database connections, each port has a specific purpose. Even though there are 65,535 ports available overall, not every port is secure. Secure ports, such as SFTP, SSH, and SSL, often have their own dedicated port numbers and are encrypted through SSL certificates.
How Does SSL Work With HTTPS?
The most common place you’ll find HTTPS is when accessing secure websites online, such as your online banking login or other sites where sensitive information is being transmitted.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) works with HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) through symmetric encryption with session keys and a series of TLS (Transport Layer Security) handshakes.
This may seem complicated, but the process is fairly simple when broken down:
- Secure communication begins when two communicating parties open up a secure connection by initiating a TLS handshake and exchanging the public key used in their encrypted connection.
- Each party generates a session key, which is then used to encrypt and decrypt all communications after the initial TLS handshake.
- As data and information are sent, both parties consistently use their session key to decrypt and encrypt information. These session keys are temporary.
- After a secure session is complete, the old session keys are discarded. Each new secure connection will generate a new set of session keys beginning with the TLS handshake.
Symmetric encryption allows two parties to send data in an encrypted format and have the ability to instantaneously decrypt and re-encrypt both messages and responses throughout the same session, creating a secure communication tunnel for everyone involved.
Difference Between SSL and TLS
SSL is the Secure Sockets Layer and TLS is the Transport Layer Security protocol, both of which are cryptographic protocols used to authenticate connections and securely transmit data between two parties.
Is there any difference between SSL and TLS? Yes. TLS is a newer version of SSL that implements security vulnerability fixes and improvements from its predecessor.
Benefits of an SSL Certificate for a Website
When using an SSL certificate to create a secure connection between visitors and a web server (often marked in every modern web browser as an HTTPS session), there are several benefits that every secure website will possess.
- Enhanced Loading Speeds — When a website is secured through SSL, it’ll typically load faster and have enhanced performance. As the internet moves towards secure communications, there will be fewer delays and redirects caused by insecure connections.
- Organic Search Improvement — Search engines such as Google place higher values on websites that are secured with HTTPS and may even penalize websites that aren’t secure.
- Website Security — When secure communications are used on a website, it makes it much less likely that information will be intercepted, hacked, or otherwise manipulated by malicious actors.
- Eliminate Browser Alerts for Visitors — When someone visits an insecure website on a modern web browser, they’ll be faced with a security alert that may deter them from the website altogether. SSL eliminates these security alerts.
How to Get an SSL Certificate
If you’re looking to get an SSL certificate for your own website, the best way to do so is to choose a certificate authority, generate a certificate signing request (CSR), and submit the CSR to your certifying authority.
Once your certificate is validated, you can install it on your website to create a secure connection for all future visitors.
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Read this article to set up an SSL certificate on Name.com today to ensure a solid, reliable, and secure connection for every one of your website visitors.