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The Evolution of SSL Technology

The Evolution of SSL Technology



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Time to get techy so we know what goes into making our transactions online secure! For all the bloggers out there looking to add a shop to their site, this can be a really important read. And, in general, it can lead to some good trivia knowledge as well.


Secure Socket Layers, or “SSL” as it is colloquially known as, has been around for two decades now, and even though many people within web development and networking circles are familiar with the concept of SSL, not many people know about its evolution, or indeed that what we commonly refer to today as SSL isn’t technically called SSL anymore!


Initial development


Back in 1994 when the World Wide Web was pretty much at a basic level compared to what it’s like today, a company called Netscape Communications created the specification for Secure Socket Layers.


Those of you who used the Internet back in those days may remember the Netscape Navigator web browser; well, this is the same company that created the SSL product, too!


Why there was, and still is, a demand for SSL


The idea behind the SSL protocol was to create a secure way for servers to communicate with remote clients.


Remote computers that logged into servers over the World Wide Web had no widely-available or secure way of sending or receiving information, and as such this caused problems with those who wanted to administer those servers from afar without having their systems compromised by hackers, for example.


Server administers at the time had to use another form of security, SSH or “Secure Shell” but this was only a text-based way of managing a server, whereas these days this can be done graphically over the Internet in a web browser session using SSL.


Today, millions of websites around the world rely on SSL certificates installed on the servers that host them to encrypt sensitive information sent from the web browsers of their visitors across the World Wide Web.


Such information typically includes usernames, passwords, personal information (names, addresses, contact details), credit card details, pretty much anything that is uniquely identifiable to those users.


If your business is running a website that requires visitors to enter sensitive information, Thawte can help you to protect your business with SSL.


The evolution of SSL


Version 1.0 of SSL was never actually released to the general public, but the revised version 2.0 was released a year later, in 1995. In 1996, the protocol was again revised to version 3.0; in fact, it was completely redeveloped due to security vulnerability concerns.


Goodbye SSL, hello TLS


Fast forward to a year before the new millennium and a new protocol called TLS (“Transport Layer Security”) was born. Although the differences at the time between SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 weren’t particularly significant, version 1.0 of the new protocol was developed with further security refinements and allowed for backward compatibility with SSL 3.0.


TLS has since between refined in version 2.0 and 3.0. Most people refer to SSL these days as SSL/TLS (although confusingly it is more common to refer to these two standards simply as “SSL”).


There is a plethora of options when it comes to buying and setting up SSL certificates, and you can see all SSL certificates available at Thawte by visiting their website.