Website Security with HTTPS, SSL and TLS: What Exactly are the Differences Between the Trio


If we tell you that getting your SSL, TLS, and HTTPS set up properly will affect your Google ranking and company reputation, would you make the effort to learn about it?

Oftentimes, you see a bunch of abbreviations online and have no idea what they stand for. You don’t know whether they apply to you or not, let alone whether you use them in your everyday life.

At Pronto, we’ve received many inquiries from existing clients (some are even IT companies) asking why they need SSL, TLS, and HTTPS for their website. We also have clients who get Website Security just because everyone else is doing it, not because they see the importance of it.

Before we dig down to the technical details of these three terms, let’s first understand why they’re so important for your company. 

1. HTTPS makes your website less vulnerable to cybercrimes

Let’s say you have a website that brings your customers to a third-party page where they make purchases using a credit card. If your site isn’t secured with HTTPS, or it is set up incorrectly, bad actors can intercept the content of your website, then easily create the exact same payment page they can control and allow them to see and capture each credit card number your customers submit. Having to resolve customer complaints due to lax site security resulting in credit card theft could be fatal to your business.

For more about securing your website, read How to secure your website from malware.

2. Google tends to rank secure websites higher than websites without HTTPS

When Google changed its algorithm back in 2014, we saw a 60–70% increase in SSL update among millions of websites out there. Websites that become HTTPS secure got ranked higher, while the ranking of websites without HTTPS slightly dropped.

Sooner or later, HTTPS will become a standard consumers demand, and websites will need to have it in order to come across as trustworthy, reliable, and secure.

For more about the correlation between HTTPS and Google ranking/SEO, read How increasing website security with HTTPS boosts SEO.

3. A secure website gives you a better reputation


Website Security

If visitors come to your website and can see your site information can be easily intercepted, it definitely does not give a good impression. If your website is not safe, secure, and reliable, what makes you think your customers would risk purchasing from you when they can purchase similar products/services from your competitors with more secure websites?

To ensure you maintain your company’s and brand’s good reputation, you should make a good first impression by showing that your site is HTTPS secured.

For more about reputation management, read 10 Tips to make your company’s reputation even more positive.

Now that you understand why a secured site is so vital to your business, let’s break down the technical definitions, similarities, and differences between HTTPS, SSL, and TLS.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer)

SSL was created by Netscape Communications Corporation back in 1994. It was designed to create a secure internet communication via the Web. It is a standard protocol that encrypts communication between your browser and the server, and allows for private information like social security numbers, credit card details, and login credentials to be transferred easily over the Internet.

SSL utilizes two keys:

  • Public keys that are knowable by everyone.
  • Private keys known only by the person receiving the message.

The two keys work together to form an encrypted connection via the Web.

Being able to connect to a specific port requires a secure connection. As an example, you would use port 443 for HTTPS, 995 for secure POP3, 993 for secure IMAP, and so on. All of these ports are already set up on the server. They are ready to negotiate secure connections first, then they will proceed to do whatever else you need after that.

TLS (Transport Layer Security)

TLS is a protocol allowing communication between the internet and client-server applications. It forms a secure communication via the Web for email, data transfers, and faxing.

TLS has two distinct layers:

  • TLS Record Protocol establishes a secure connection with encryption methods like data encryption standard.
  • TLS Handshake Protocol allows authentication for the servers and clients together. Before data can be exchanged, it has to convert cryptographic keys and algorithms.

This particular type of connection begins by contacting the server. Then, it switches to a secured method of communication after the initial handshake is successful. In the event the handshake fails, the connection will be terminated. One of the best examples of this is using the command STARTTLS that is used for an outbound email connection.

There are a number of benefits to using an SSL or TLS connection, such as:

  • Secured communication between the server and the browser
  • Ensured safety of your sensitive information
  • Encrypted user and website info
  • SEO benefits when conducting Google searches
  • Protection for your website from cyberattacks
  • A boost to your website’s reputation online
  • Security for your software, documents and applications

HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transport Protocol)

HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP. This ensures that any communication sent online is secured by the SSL/TLS connection. Any ongoing communication between the server and browser will be encrypted for your safety. It allows you to evaluate how secure the environment is. If you are looking to establish an HTTPS connection, you will have to first purchase an SSL certificate from someone you can trust. You don’t want to purchase a certificate from just anyone. Look for trusted certificate authority. Then, you need to install it on the proper server.

HTTPS is the code-text that is written using standard HTTPS format and secured with SSL/TLS to encrypt the HTTP text and ensure the communication is protected at all times.

There are a number of reasons to use an HTTPS connection:

  • It helps to establish a secure communication between server and browser.
  • It secures websites against tampering activities or eavesdropping.
  • It protects users from man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • It is used worldwide by business of all sizes to process secure payment transactions.
  • It is used by banking, healthcare, eCommerce, social media, and government industries.

Regardless of what your situation might be, you need to look into the benefits of implementing SSL, HTTPS, and TLS secure connections in your business. You never know just how beneficial these Website Security methods are until you have to use them.

Need help with managing and securing your website? Speak to our experts to see how Pronto can be of help.


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