An Ultimate Guide on SSL and TLS

Have you been trying to learn the basic concepts of SSL and TLS? Then you could stop right here as we present to you the perfect SSL tutorial to help you in understanding the inner depths of these topics. For the most practical knowledge, you must understand that the concept of SSL is used whenever we have to make an online payment, while giving away personal information, for the credit card transactions, weapon systems and many more. In this SSL tutorial, we will present to you the basic guide to understanding the concepts of SSL and TSL.

Introduction

Let us have an insight into the methods of securing the information over the Internet by reading this SSL tutorial. The recent market is getting its hold on by the database driven applications which also tends to increase the threat of the security of the vital information which is retained in the database system. Various databases like SQL Server, Oracle, and so more are used for the creation of intelligent and complex systems. However, whatever might be the complexity of the database system, the intruders or the malicious third-party groups usually find a way to get unauthorized access to the vital information which is stored in the database. These groups then, use the information in the wrong way for their selfish motives. Therefore, there stands a great need to construct a system which is fully secure of such malicious and unauthorized access for providing safety to the sensitive information.

One way to weaken the threat of any possible malicious or unauthorized attack is by using a secure session or communication protocol which uses the method of encrypting the data while it is being transmitted between the sender and the receiver. Some of the most common communication protocols used for safeguarding the confidential information are: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TSL (Transport Layer Security).

What is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is defined as the communication protocol which is meant for providing security to the Internet community. The use of SSL can be implemented over any transmission which takes place over TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and secures them entirely. The various applications of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) over the online medium like secure HTTP or commonly known as HTTPs which is used for the password transactions. SSL provides reliable connection and privacy of the confidential information by ensuring the following:

  • Authentication of the Identity, which could be done with the use of identification certificates.
  • Reliability by means of maintaining a secure connection by checking the message integrity.
  • Privacy through the use of the encrypted connection.

Application of the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

There is a heightened need over the Internet to transmit the sensitive information in a secure manner. The SSL ensures the same by transferring the information over the Internet using a secure channel. One of the most common applications of SSL on any web or online system where there is constant interaction between the sender and the receiver. It is required to ensure the configuration from the server side of the communication channel. Another important factor to ensure a secure communication channel is to introduce an accelerator to the web server. An accelerator is an SSL PCI card which is sold out by the leading companies to enhance the processing which is required for the encryption of information across the communicating medium. The importance of SSL in our lives has been depicted in this SSL tutorial.

How SSL works?

We explain the meaning of SSL and its functioning in this SSL tutorial. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol basically functions in four separate protocol layers to ensure the encapsulation of all the communication taking place between the client and the server. Here are the layers:

  1. Record Layer: The record layer is used for the formatting of the ChangeCipherSpec, Alert, application and Handshake protocol messages. The formatting ensures that a header is provided to each message along with a hash (which is the result of the MAC, Message Authentication Code). The header of the record layer is of five bytes and contains the fields as: protocol definition of one byte, protocol version of two bytes, and the subsequent length of two bytes. The SSL protocol specifies that the messages of the protocol which follows the header cannot exceed the length of 16,384 bytes.
  2. ChangeCipherSpec Protocol: This layer comprises of one single message which is used to signal the start of the communication process between the client and the server. The actual message of this protocol is only 1 byte long and the signals having a value of one bring a change in the communication protocol.
  3. Alert Protocol: If there is any error or warnings between the two parties, the alert protocol sends the respective message. There are two fields in this protocol which include the alert description and the severity level.
  4. Handshake Protocol: The messages which are transmitted between the client and the server are used to establish a handshake to ensure a secure connection. The various messages which form the handshake include ClientHello, ServerKeyExchange, ServerHelloDone, ServerHello, ClientKeyExchange, ChangeCipherSpec, and Finished.

An Insight into the TLS (Transport Layer Security) Protocol

As the Internet needed a standardized protocol, thus came the invention of the TLS. The TLS (Transport Layer Security) which was launched in January, 1999 was introduced with the aim to establish a standard for enabling the private communications. It operates on two levels:

  1. TLS Record Protocol: This protocol works by negotiating a reliable and private connection between the client-side and the server-side parties. The record protocol can function without encryption. However, it makes use of the symmetric cryptography keys which enables the private connection. The hash functions along with the message make the connection secure.
  2. TLS Handshake Protocol: This protocol ensures the authentication of the communication between client and server. By using this protocol, both the sender and the receiver agree upon using an encryption algorithm and use the same language to ensure the security if the confidential information.

In this SSL tutorial, we learned about the ways through which both SSL and TLS ensure the security of the sensitive information which gets transmitted over the Internet. Therefore, both SSL and TLS have proved to be the most effective technique for ensuring the safety of the valuable data used over the medium of the Internet.

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