SSL/TLS Encryption: A Practical Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. What is SSL/TLS?
  2. Why SSL/TLS matters
  3. Types of SSL/TLS certificates
  4. How SSL/TLS works
  5. How to implement SSL/TLS
  6. Securing your website with SSL/TLS
  7. SSL/TLS and SEO
  8. SSL/TLS issues and how to solve them

Learning about encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS can feel like trying to decode a secret language. But don't worry! This guide will make it as easy as pie. Think of it as your friendly decoder ring, breaking down complex encryption jargon into simple, easy-to-understand terms. So, grab a cup of coffee, and let's get started.

What is SSL/TLS?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, while TLS is short for Transport Layer Security. Now, you might be asking, "Why are there two different acronyms?" Good question! SSL and TLS are cryptographic protocols that provide secure communication over a network—like the internet. You can think of them like those invisible ink pens you might have played with as a kid. They make sure that the messages you send online stay secret and can only be seen by the person you want to see them.

SSL was the original protocol, but it had a few security issues. So, it was replaced by its more secure sibling, TLS. But because SSL was around first, people still use the term "SSL" when they're talking about both SSL and TLS. It's a bit like how you might say "videotape" when you're really talking about a DVD.

When you are learning about the encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS, you'll come across two types of encryption: asymmetric and symmetric encryption. Here's a simple way to understand them:

  • Asymmetric encryption is used when a secure session needs to be established between a client and a server. Think of it as a secret handshake that only you and your best friend know. It makes sure that you are who you say you are.
  • Symmetric encryption, on the other hand, is used to exchange data within the secured session. Imagine it like a secret language you and your friend use to pass notes in class.

In the world of SSL/TLS encryption, both these types of encryption work together to keep your online communications safe and secure. So next time you're shopping online or logging into your email, remember the invisible ink and secret handshakes that are keeping your personal information safe.

Why SSL/TLS matters

Imagine walking into a bank to deposit money. You wouldn't just leave your cash on the counter and hope it gets to the right place, right? You'd want some assurances that your hard-earned money is safe. That's where SSL/TLS comes in when you're online.

When you browse the web, data is constantly moving back and forth between your computer and the websites you visit. Without an encryption protocol like SSL/TLS, anyone could peek at your data—like your credit card information, passwords, or emails. It's a bit like sending a postcard through the mail. Anyone who picks it up can read what's on it.

SSL/TLS matters because it turns that postcard into a sealed letter. It encrypts—or scrambles—your data so that only the intended recipient can understand it. This is especially important when you're doing things like online banking, shopping, or entering personal information. SSL/TLS makes sure your data gets to where it's going safely and securely, without any prying eyes intercepting it.

So, the next time you see a little padlock icon in your browser's address bar, that's SSL/TLS at work. It's like a digital security guard, ensuring that your online transactions and private information stay private. And that's why learning about the encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS is so important—it's about understanding how your online safety is maintained.

Types of SSL/TLS certificates

Just like different keys open different doors, there are several types of SSL/TLS certificates—each with their own purpose. Let's take a look at the main types to further your understanding of the encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS.

1. Domain Validation (DV) Certificates: These are the most basic type of SSL/TLS certificates. They're like the key to your front door—they simply verify that you own the domain name. They're quick and easy to obtain, but they don't provide much information about who owns the website. They're typically used for blogs or personal websites.

2. Organization Validation (OV) Certificates: These are a step up from DV certificates. They're like a key card to your office building—they verify your domain and some information about your organization. They're usually used by businesses and require more validation than DV certificates.

3. Extended Validation (EV) Certificates: These are the gold standard of SSL/TLS certificates. They're like a VIP pass—they verify your domain, your organization, and your physical location. They require the most validation and are typically used by large businesses or organizations handling sensitive data.

When choosing an SSL/TLS certificate, it's important to consider what kind of website you have and what kind of data you're handling. Just like you wouldn't use a key card to open your front door, you want to make sure you're using the right SSL/TLS certificate for your website.

By learning about these different types of certificates, you're well on your way to understanding the encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS. Remember, it's not just about securing your website—it's also about providing confidence and trust to your visitors.

How SSL/TLS works

Understanding how SSL/TLS works is like learning a secret handshake. It might seem complicated at first, but once you know the steps, it's quite straightforward. Let's break down how these encryption algorithms work.

Firstly, imagine you're visiting a website. Your browser sends a 'hello' to the website's server, saying, "Hey, I'd like to start a secure connection." This is like extending your hand for a handshake.

Next, the server responds with its SSL/TLS certificate and its public key. Think of this like the server showing you its secret handshake and asking, "Do you trust me?"

Then, your browser checks the server's SSL/TLS certificate. If it trusts the certificate, it creates a unique session key using the server's public key and sends it back to the server. This is like your browser saying, "I trust you, let's use this secret handshake."

The server then decrypts the session key using its private key. This is like the server saying, "Got it, let's use this secret handshake."

Finally, both your browser and the server use this unique session key to encrypt and decrypt the information they send to each other. This secure connection is like a secret handshake that only your browser and the server know. That's SSL/TLS in a nutshell!

So, you see, learning about the encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS isn't as complicated as it seems. It's all about trust, verification, and a secret handshake. Now, who said learning about encryption algorithms can't be fun?

How to implement SSL/TLS

Now that you've learned about the encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS, let's talk about how to implement it. Think of it as learning a new recipe; it might seem tricky at first, but with the right ingredients and steps, you'll be cooking up a secure website in no time.

First up, you need to purchase an SSL/TLS certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA). This is like buying the right ingredients for your recipe. Make sure to choose a CA that's trusted by most browsers—think of it as getting ingredients from a reputable grocery store.

Next, you'll need to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). This includes your website's public key and some additional information. It's like writing down your recipe and the ingredients you've got.

Once you've got your CSR, send it off to the CA. They'll make sure everything checks out and then issue your SSL/TLS certificate. It's like sending your recipe for approval to a master chef.

Now comes the fun part — setting up your SSL/TLS certificate on your server. This process might differ depending on your server, but it's generally like following the cooking instructions for your recipe.

Finally, you'll need to update your website to use HTTPS instead of HTTP. This is like serving your dish on a clean, shiny plate. It's the final touch that lets everyone know your website is secure.

And voila! You've just implemented SSL/TLS on your website. Just like cooking, it might take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be whipping up secure websites like a pro.

Securing your website with SSL/TLS

Securing your website with SSL/TLS is like adding a security system to your house. It's not just about setting up an alarm system; it's about making sure every door and window is secure. Let's go through the process together.

First things first: you've got your SSL/TLS certificate up and running. Now, it's like you've got a new security guard at the door. But remember, the guard can't do all the work. You need to make sure all the doors and windows on your website are secure too.

Think of your web pages as the doors and windows. Every page on your website needs to use HTTPS, not just your homepage. It's like making sure all the doors and windows in your house are locked, not just the front door.

Next, you need to set up a secure server — this is like the control panel for your security system. It's where you manage all your security settings. Make sure your server is configured correctly to use SSL/TLS. This means checking that all the right protocols are enabled and all the outdated ones are disabled.

Now, let's talk about cookies. No, not the tasty kind. We're talking about web cookies, small bits of data stored in your user's browser. You'll want to secure these too; it's like making sure your valuables are in a safe. So, make sure your cookies are marked as 'Secure'.

Finally, consider setting up HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). This is like adding an extra lock on your doors. It tells browsers to only use HTTPS, adding an extra layer of security.

Securing your website with SSL/TLS is a comprehensive task, but one that's definitely worth it. After all, a secure website is a trustworthy website, and who doesn't want to be trusted?


Imagine you're at a social gathering. You'd naturally gravitate towards people you trust, right? The same logic applies to search engines like Google. They favor websites that are secure, trustworthy, and put users' safety first. That's where SSL/TLS comes into play.

When you secure your website with SSL/TLS, you're not just protecting your users' data — you're also giving your SEO rankings a boost. Google sees that shiny padlock icon next to your URL and says, "This site takes security seriously. Let's move it up a notch in the search results."

But Google doesn't just take your word for it. They want to see you walk the talk. That means all your web pages should use HTTPS. Think of it like a pop quiz from Google. If even one page is insecure, it could impact your whole site's ranking. So, make sure you've got all your bases covered.

And here's another thing: secure websites are faster. SSL/TLS isn't just about encryption; it's also about performance. Faster websites rank higher in search results. So, by implementing SSL/TLS, you're killing two birds with one stone.

Remember, securing your website with SSL/TLS isn't just a technical decision — it's a strategic one. It's about building trust with your users and with search engines. And in the world of SEO, trust is everything.

SSL/TLS Issues and How to Solve Them

Like any superhero, SSL/TLS also has its kryptonite — problems that can make it less effective. But don't worry, I've got your back. Let's dive into some common issues and how to tackle them head-on.

First up is the infamous 'mixed content' warning. This happens when a secure webpage (HTTPS) includes elements from an insecure source (HTTP). It's like having an armored car with a cardboard door — not very secure, right? And search engines don't like that. To fix this, make sure all elements on your page — images, scripts, everything — are loaded via HTTPS.

Next, let's talk about SSL/TLS certificate expiry. Certificates are like passports; they have an expiration date. If you don't renew it in time, browsers will show a warning to your visitors. And trust me, nothing scares a user away faster than a security warning. So, keep an eye on your certificate's expiry date and renew it well in advance.

Lastly, we have the issue of weak encryption algorithms. Not all encryption is created equal. Some older types of encryption, like SHA-1, are no longer considered secure. To keep your website safe and your SEO rankings high, always use up-to-date encryption algorithms in your SSL/TLS certificates. After all, you wouldn't use an old, rusty lock to secure your house, would you?

Remember, SSL/TLS is a powerful tool for your website, but it's not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. It needs regular maintenance and updates to keep your website safe and your SEO rankings high. So, keep learning about the encryption algorithms in SSL/TLS, and stay ahead of the game.

If you found this blog post on SSL/TLS Encryption insightful and want to learn even more about the digital economy's backbone, don't miss out on Tom Glendinning's workshop, 'Crypto For Creators, Part 1: The Backbone Of The Digital Economy.' This workshop will provide you with a deeper understanding of the importance of encryption and its role in the digital world. Secure your spot today and expand your knowledge on this crucial topic!