Have you ever wondered about the origins of some of our celebrated holidays? It turns out that Valentine’s Day, for example, originally had nothing to do with hearts and flowers.
To keep the story short and sweet; around the third century, Valentine was a pretty common name and one unfortunate was martyred by the Romans. Fast forward a millennium and we have what we know as Valentine’s Day, an opportunity to declare love and appreciation. Over time, regardless of its previous connection to the martyred saint, commerce has managed to give a whole new meaning to the celebration. Everyone wants that heart-themed ‘show of love’ card on the special day.
But what does all this have to do with Transport Layer Security (or TLS) certificates? Well, I can make a crazy stretch here, as well. Why not?
A TLS certificate is the Valentine’s Day ‘card’ for your server, and ultimately, your business. Without TLS, sensitive information such as logins, credit card data and personal information can be collected by malicious actors, and web browsing, e-mail, online conferencing can be monitored by others with disreputable aims.
The potential outcomes from unsecured data transmissions going over the internet can have disastrous results. To overcome this, organizations install TLS certificates on servers so user’s web browsers can securely connect to their website via HTTPS.
What are the Benefits of a TLS certificate?
You may be familiar with the term SSL. Well, TLS is the successor protocol to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). They both encrypt communication between web browsers and websites/applications. Both protocols are widely deployed, and both terms are frequently used interchangeably. The three main elements that TLS certificates achieve:
Encryption hides data transferred between parties
Authentication ensures the parties exchanging information are who they claim to be
Integrity verifies the data hasn’t been tampered with or forged
TLS certificates use strong authentication, message privacy, and integrity to protect user data in transit, while ensuring the website is legitimate and matched with the organization’s identity. A secure channel is established between a user’s computer and the server so they can exchange information over the Internet.
How do you know if a TLS certificate is trustworthy?
It’s easy to spot a non-trusted website by simply looking at the address bar. If you see a red warning triangle and a "Not Secure" message, right click on the message from the menu, and select "Certificate" to show the certificate identification.
Be Aware of the Vulnerabilities of TLS certificates
The top security errors associated with TLS certificates are incomplete certificate inventories, using outdated and deprecated protocols, and a lack of certificate protection policies and practices. In addition to these TLS management and best practice issues, TLS can have flaws and vulnerabilities, so choosing the right kind of TLS certificate is important. There are known vulnerabilities in some versions of TLS that resulted in exploits by bad actors. However, most TLS security misconfigurations happen because of a lack of following best practices. This creates additional threat vectors that can be exploited by hackers.
If your TLS certificate expires, your website may become unreachable, and users trying to assess the website will see a warning message in their browser. When they see this message, their concern will cause them to immediately leave. The result to your business can be a loss of user traffic, potential lost revenue, and reputation loss. Also, bad actors could try infiltrating your now unprotected website, to exfiltrate and steal data. Implementing TLS properly requires the right technology and the use of best practice security methods.
Learn more about how GlobalSign can help you acquire a new TLS certificate. You’ll fall in love with security all over again.