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SSL vs TLS. Which one to choose?

SSL vs TLS

Authentication and security for the transporting of data are the common factors between these two technologies. There are differences between SSL vs TLS. Let see what each of them has in store for you.

What is SSL?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a standard for encrypting data that is exchanged between users’ devices (browsers) and websites. SSL also proves identity for users to feel safer. SSL became a convenient security layer, especially for websites requiring sensitive data from users.

To transfer information without securing it have the risks of interception, theft, or manipulation. 

SSL works via two different keys, a public key and a private one. Both are vital for encoding and decoding the information exchanged between two systems.

Whenever a user connects to a website with an SSL certificate, there’s an exchange of public keys to encrypt the messages they send to each other. When the server receives a message, it decrypts it through its private key. Its answer to the user is encrypted with this private key, and a mirrored process takes place on the user’s side.

SSL is used on remote login, e-mail, websites, etc.

What is TLS?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a cryptographic technology to keep private the data communicated on the Internet. It encrypts messaging, e-mail, voice-over IP, file transfers, etc. It’s an evolved version of SSL. 

TLS can authenticate the server or the client, supply confidentiality to the communication channel, and guarantee integrity.

A TLS connection starts with a handshake between the user’s device and a server. This handshake involves different processes. The identity of the server is authenticated. The TLS version and the specific cipher suite they will use to communicate are defined. And session keys to encrypt messages they will exchange are created. There won’t be an exchange of data until the handshake is completed.

SSL vs TLS. Which one to choose?

As you see, both technologies work similarly. TLS repaired vulnerabilities found on SSL and improved its functionality for authenticating and securing communication.

  • TLS supplies more detailed and reactive alerts when problems occur.
  • SSL authentication of messages through keys offers a good level of security. But TLS goes to a higher level, using key-HMAC (Hashing for Message Authentication Code) to protect information not to be modified while it is in transit. HMAC works through a secret cryptographic key and a cryptographic hash function. The shared secret replaces the use of digital signatures.
  • For creating key data with the HMAC, TLS uses two hash algorithms to increase security. Even if an algorithm gets compromised, information will be safe.
  • While authenticating, SSL sends a message to every node saying that the integrity of the exchanged information is untouched. Meaning it was not modified. TLS does the same, but it includes HMAC and PRF (pseudorandom function family) values in that message to strengthen its method of authentication. 
  • Data integrity is stronger guaranteed by TLS because it also defines the kind of certificate to be exchanged by nodes. This avoids loss of data while getting transferred to their destination.
  • SSL and TLS provide reliability for your website. Both supply the visible security marks for your customers to realize they are in a secured site. The HTTPS and the padlock on the address bar.
  • Many people call indistinctly SSL or TLS this technology. Some providers also think clients can be confused with the change. They sell you the TLS, saying it’s the SSL you asked for. But they are not the same. All SSL versions are already outdated. Many websites still use it (one of its versions), but they should be aware of the risks of its vulnerabilities to mitigate them.

To put it bluntly, TLS is already the official successor of the SSL certificate. 

Conclusion

Now the choice is clear, TLS for protecting the integrity of all the communication you exchange with your clients online. Internet is not a safe place anymore. Protection is a must!

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How to back up your website?

Website Back Up

Even in the offline world, people back up their paperwork preventing a possible data loss. With computers, we learned the importance of backing up regularly in case of a hardware or software failure, a virus, or other threat.

The same logic should operate for websites. You should have security copies of it. This can save you in case something goes wrong, but also in other common situations.

Why is it important to back up your website?

Prevent data loss. Besides the website’s data, more information is added from your users’ purchases, comments, visits, etc. 

Malware or/and hacking attack. If your security defenses are defeated, a backup of your website is key to get back on track faster and easier than to build it from zero. Down-time means income loss.  

Compatibility problems. Lack of compatibility while installing software to improve website’s functionality can produce problems. If it goes too bad, a backup will allow you to get back fast to the beginning. 

Update’s issues. To update is a responsible and regular practice, but sometimes the process can cause conflict among the different software components. Have a copy of your website to restore it quickly.

Migration to a different web hosting provider. This process requires transferring the complete database and files of your website to a new server. You need an updated copy.

Original website’s development vs. updated backup. Websites get more developed with time and new additions. What you need is a copy of the latest website’s version. 

How to back up your website?

Back up manually. This is the hardest method. It takes time, effort, but it works. A website has many files to back up, especially big ones. Be very focused not to miss a single one because the smallest loss can cause problems. Check every downloaded file, organize to avoid confusion, and remember to back up regularly. A good practice is to create an archive file with the complete directory instead of downloading file-by-file. Have more than only a copy on different hard drives.

Back up with rsync. Remote sync is a remote but also a local tool for transferring and synchronizing files. Through an algorithm, it can detect the segments of the files that have been modified to save them. It reduces the amount of data that has to be copied, takes less bandwidth and time. It works between a computer and an external hard drive and across servers. 

Back up directly from your cPanel. Click the backup icon and go on clicking until the process is finished. It’s really important to save the backup on a computer or an offline destination too. A common mistake is to back up without choosing the destination for the copy to be saved. Then, by default, it gets stored in the server. If it fails or shuts down, you simply don’t have a backup.

Back up using the cloud. This is an easy solution. Everything (database, content, themes, plugins…) will be safely backed up and available when you need it. There are different services for you to choose from. 

Back up through automated tools. There is software, free and paid. You can configure to make a copy of your website as frequent as you set it up, manually or automated, etc. Some of these tools have to be installed. Others are web-based. In general, they download backups via FTP. Every file and the database will be downloaded and even scanned to be sure they are free of malware. There are many choices. They add specific features to compete with others.

Conclusion

Backing up is a self-defense practice. Choose the choice that best suits your website’s needs and your budget. Redundant backups are essential. Don’t store only a copy. Save in more than one server or offline safe location. Guarantee you can immediately restore your website and don’t leave this task for tomorrow!

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