Encryption remains one of the most effective ways to safeguard data from breaches. A cryptography process, it involves the conversion of readable data into an unreadable format. You may have sensitive data in plain text, for instance. If it’s accessed by a nefarious third party, it may become compromised. There are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates, however, that can protect your business’s sensitive data from breaches such as this.

SSL/TLS Certificates Explained

SSL/TLS certificates are digital cryptography files that are used to encrypt data in transit. They are the foundation of the secure networking protocol, Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

Research shows that over 80% of all websites on the internet use HTTPS. The remaining websites typically use Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP and HTTPS are both networking protocols. They lay out the guidelines regarding how clients communicate with websites. HTTPS is essentially a shell-like extension of HTTP. It features the same foundation as HTTP but HTTPS comes with encryption, which isn’t found in HTTP. Encryption is achieved with the use of an SSL or TLS certificate.

How SSL/TLS Certificates Work

You can use HTTPS on a public network or a private network, but you’ll need to use an SSL or TLS certificate. Installing this cryptography file on a network-connected server will enable HTTPS.

When users attempt to connect to the server, they will send a request to certify the server’s identify. The server will respond with the SSL or TLS certificate. Within this cryptography file is a public key. The key will allow users to decrypt the data.

Only users who have the key will be able to read the data. SSL and TLS certificates are designed to encrypt data using the HTTPS protocol. By sending the public key to users, those users will still be able to read the data. Other users, however, won’t be able to read the data.

Why Use an SSL/TLS Certificate

The main benefit of using an SSL or TLS certificate is data security. It won’t encrypt all data on the network with which it’s used. Rather, an SSL or TLS certificate will only encrypt data in transit.

Data in transit is moving data. Any data that’s downloaded from the server or uploaded to the server will be encrypted. But encrypting data in transit will minimize the risk of man-in-the-middle (MITM) breaches. MITM breaches are data breaches that specifically involve data in transit. An SSL or TLS certificate can prevent them from occurring by encrypting this data.