The Basics and Benefits of SSL/TLS

You’ve likely heard of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). But, there are varying levels of understanding about the basics of SSL/TLS, how each relate to having a valid SSL certificate, how and why your site visitors would want to recognize a trusted site, and perhaps most importantly, how to get an SSL certificate and install it yourself.

First off … what exactly does SSL/TLS do? Simply put, it’s used for encryption protection of online transactions of sensitive data using standard security technology.

What’s the difference between SSL and TLS? TLS is newer than SSL, and while they do essentially the same thing, some services require the more modern TLS protocol instead of SSL.

Perhaps the two most recognizable signs that a site has a valid SSL certificate installed, is the small padlock icon followed by https, rather than http.

https padlock



By clicking the padlock, a visitor to your site can see the validity of the certificate.



There are lots of benefits of having that little padlock icon and https, but here are just a few of the most important:

  1. It protects confidential information your customers have provided your system. If you’re collecting credit card or other sensitive information from customers through your website, it’s imperative to have an SSL certificate.
  2. It affirms your credibility. Certain browsers warn users that a site may not be safe if they don’t have a certificate. It instills confidence and trust in your site
  3. It helps you gain certain types of compliance (PCI, for example). All businesses that store, process or transmit credit card data electronically are required to gain PCI compliance, and having an SSL certificate is one step to getting there.
  4. It increases your site’s search engine ranking. Search engines like Google consider sites with an SSL certificate to be more credible, and therefore your site will index higher than those without a certificate.

Those are just a few of the reasons installing and maintaining your SSL certificate is important.

So, how can Media Temple help?

Media Temple’s Security Pack integrates with Let’s Encrypt SSL, an automated and open Certificate Authority (CA). Once installed, the certificate will auto-renew every 90 days.

Media Temple’s Domain Validated SSL is a paid SSL certificate backed by a Commercial Certificate Authority (CCA). We make this available for instances where Let’s Encrypt integration isn’t available or in case you’re more comfortable with a traditional Certificate Authority. Otherwise, the end result and benefits are the same.

All the best,

The Media Temple Customer Success Team

About the Author Joseph Palumbo is consumed with how technology influences our daily lives. Formerly of Apple, Rackspace and Cisco, as well as a number of startups, Joseph has spent half of his career helping customers make sense of new technology and the other half learning from customers how to build new technologies that solve real-world problems. More by this Author