TLS vs SSL vs HTTPS – What’s the Difference?

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“I want my website to be secure – what’s the difference with TLS vs. SSL vs. HTTPS? Which do I need?”

That’s a great question. Over the past several years, Google and Mozilla have led a push that encourages all websites to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. This has led to a lot more awareness around website security and internet encryption, but many people find the acronyms a bit confusing. And, quite frankly, we can’t blame them — there are a lot of abbreviations to keep track of when it comes to website security!

Let’s break down TLS vs SSL vs HTTPS in simple language.

Let’s Start Here: TLS vs SSL

First of all, let’s get the easy one out of the way — what’s the difference between SSL and TLS? Here are the three things you need to know about TLS vs. SSL:

  1. SSL and TLS do the same thing. They’re both protocols for encrypting (securing) information that’s traveling over a computer network. For example, encrypting credit card details while they’re in transit from a shopper to Amazon.com.
  2. TLS is the new SSL. Technically speaking, SSL is the older protocol and is actually deprecated. TLS is the newer protocol that all up-to-date websites and software use.
  3. Lingo is slow to change in this industry. Terms like “SSL certificates” are still widely used, even though what we refer to as SSL certificates are technically using the TLS protocol. But in common speech, lots of people still say SSL. We’re not going to get picky — you can say SSL or TLS and we’ll know what you mean!

TLS/SSL vs HTTPS

So now that we know the difference between TLS and SSL, what’s the difference between them and HTTPS? Another good question! Here’s the answer:

HTTPS is the most common way that TLS/SSL is used or implemented. When you visit an HTTPS website (like this one), you’re actually using both HTTPS and TLS at the same time. They work together to make your visit to the website secure.

If you want to make it super simple, think of it like this: TLS is how the data is encrypted, HTTPS is how the encrypted data is transferred between the client and the server. Capiche?

How Is TLS Used Outside of HTTPS?

HTTPS is, by far, the most common way that TLS is used in the real world… but there are other implementations of TLS in use as well. For example, FTPS uses TLS to securely upload and download files from web servers for editing and management.

How Do I Enable SSL/TLS & HTTPS on My Website?

Here’s how to enable TLS and HTTPS on your website:

  1. Purchase an SSL/TLS certificate. A Comodo PositiveSSL certificate is a great starter certificate. If your site has subdomains (e.g. blog.domain.com), we recommend a PositiveSSL Wildcard certificate.

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  1. Issue and install the certificate on your website. Our website will walk you through these steps.
  2. Update your website settings to use HTTPS URLs. If your site uses WordPress, check out our guide to redirecting HTTP to HTTPS in WordPress.

We hope this simple, quick guide makes understanding the differences between HTTPS vs SSL vs TLS clearer. If you have any questions about implementing HTTPS/TLS/SSL on your website, feel free to reach out to our 24/7 support team — they’re happy to help!

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