In a world where cloud computing and storage is now common, it’s important to put in place sufficient safeguards to protect your information. Whether you send emails, sign in to your document management software, or visit a website with sensitive information, it’s important to use SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) encryption to keep data transmission safe.
What Is SSL?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption is used to establish an encrypted link between a server and a client. Typically, SSL is used when someone accesses a website via a browser or downloads email onto an email client (e.g. Outlook). SSL also allows the secure transmission of sensitive data, including credit card numbers, login credentials, or social security numbers.
Why Is SSL Needed?
Normally, data between servers and browsers is sent in plain text format. That means anyone who can intercept the data can use that information. It’s also possible for someone with the know-how to change the information that is sent if it’s not encrypted. With SSL, the information is encrypted and therefore secure from unauthorized access.
You can compare it to having a top-secret conversation with a business partner. Technically, any member of your staff could eavesdrop and use what they hear for their own benefit. But if you were to speak in a foreign language or use a special code, then it would be quite impossible for your eavesdropper to make sense of it. And since they can’t understand the message, they can’t copy or alter it, either.
How Does SSL Work?
In order to create a secure connection, a website can be secured with an SSL certificate. When a browser attempts to access that website, the browser and server establish a secure SSL connection. This is done in the following steps:
- The browser connects to a website and requests that the server identify itself.
- The server sends a copy of its SSL certificate.
- The browser checks the certificate root against a list of trusted sources to ensure that the certificate is unexpired, unrevoked, and valid for the website it’s connected to. If the browser trusts the certificate, it creates, encrypts, and sends back a symmetric session key.
- The server decrypts the session key and sends back an acknowledgement and starts the encrypted session using a new key.
- The server and the browser now encrypt all transmitted data with the new session key.
Where Is SSL Used?
Many customers don’t feel confident making purchases from sites that don’t have the SSL certificates, and rightly so. SSL and TLS are used to create a trusted environment where customers know that their information is encrypted and secure.
How Can You Spot a Secure Site?
To make it easier for people to see whether a site is secure, browsers give visual cues. For example, you may notice a green bar or a lock icon in the field for the web address. Sites that use an SSL certificate also change from http:// to https://.
What Is TLS?
TLS, short for Transport Layer Security, is a protocol that guarantees privacy and data integrity between client and server applications communicating over the internet. TLS is the successor to SSL. TLS is composed of 2 layers: the TLS Record Protocol and the TLS Handshake Protocol. Similar to SSL, TLS provides connection security with different encryption methods. However, the TLS Record Protocol can be used without encryption.
SSL and TLS share some features, but they’re 2 different encryption methods. TLS includes enhancements to SSL. For example, TLS uses a different algorithm for the authentication code. With TLS, the certificate doesn’t always have to get rooted back. Instead, it’s possible to use an intermediary authority. Finally, there are also newly added alert messages and other minor differences.
SSL/TLS Importance for Document Storage
Keeping your documents secure is extremely important. You obviously don’t want anyone to be able to access your documents unless they are an authorized user. In order to keep your data safe during uploads, transfers, and transmissions, it’s important to use SSL/TLS encryption.
You may wonder why encryption is important once the documents are uploaded to the cloud. The thing is that every time someone accesses those files, the data has to be transferred in order to show up in your browser. This data transfer has to happen securely in order to prevent eavesdroppers from viewing or altering the data.
SSL/TLS is also necessary when you log in to eFileCabinet’s document management software. Your login credentials need to be encrypted in order to prevent others from gaining unauthorized access to your account. Of course, eFileCabinet uses both of these security features in order to keep your information safe and secure at all times.
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