TLS or transport layer security is a widely adopted internet security protocol that facilitates privacy and data security for communications over the Internet. It’s a cryptographic protocol that provides end-to-end communications security, and it is an IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standard intended to prevent eavesdropping, tampering, and message forgery.
Apart from communication between servers over the Internet, TLS can also be used to encrypt other communications like email, messaging, and voice over IP. For this reason, it’s vital that businesses that rely on email extensively, ensure that the TLS certificate for their domain is valid to ensure the best deliverability.
How is TLS Used?
For a website or application to use TLS, it must have a valid TLS certificate installed on its origin server. This TLS certificate is issued by a certificate authority to the person or business that owns the domain. To ensure security, this certificate contains important information about the owner of the domain, along with the server’s public key, both of which are important for validating the service identity.
A TLS connection is validated using a sequence known as the TLS handshake. So, when a user navigates to a website that uses TLS, the TLS handshake begins between the user’s device and the server.
During this process, the user’s device and the web server specify which version of the TLS will be used, decide on which cipher suites will be used, authenticate the identity of the server, and generate session keys for interpreting the information that will be exchanged during the session.
Once the data is encrypted and authenticated, is then signed with a Message Authentication Code or MAC code and the recipient can then verify this code to ensure the integrity of the data. In this way, the recipient is ensured that there was no tampering with the data while in transit.
A further way it could keep communications confidential is by using DNS over TLS which encrypts DNS requests, making it difficult to establish which websites a user visited.
Why is TLS Important?
With TLS sensitive and personal information like login details, account details, and other details can be secured. It ensures that the data transmitted between client and server applications is encrypted with secure algorithms and that the data can’t be viewed by any third parties.
In contrast, the traditional methods of transmitting data over the Internet meant that data was unencrypted, or if it was, it was done on a piecemeal basis. This meant that anybody could read the communications transmitted over the internet.
TLS is therefore vital to protect vital and sensitive information, whether it’s sent over the Internet or with email.