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What is the Difference Between SSH VS SSL? Which is More Secure?

difference between ssh vs ssl

The core difference between SSL and SSH – SSH (Secure Shell) is a network protocol used for managing systems and applications remotely. SSH provides password and public key authentication as well encrypted data communication between two computers. On other hand, SSL creates an encrypted connection on the website, allows secured transactions between a server and a user.

The cybersecurity debate is one of the most significant and hot debates in 2021. Given that most businesses are looking to move their presence online, it is essential to take security measures like SSL and SSH protocols seriously. Although both SSH and SSL are used to authenticate data, they also encrypt data transmission between two systems to keep it safe.

This guide helps yo to determine what is the difference between SSL and SSH.

What is SSH?

SSH, also known as Secure Shell, is a security protocol that allows you to access a remote computer safely and issue commands over it under a secure SSH tunnel.

You can encrypt the data being transferred between you (client) and your website server under the tunnel.

If a user wants to create a tunnel, he/she has to authenticate using a username and a password or cryptographic keys.

Upon setting up the authentication, a user can easily access and command any remote server information.

How does SSH Work?

SSH security protocol creates a pair of cryptographic keys known as public and private keys.

The private key is confidential, while the public key is shared with the server with which the client wishes to communicate.

The server authorizes the public key and stores it. Now, the only system that can access the server is the one with the corresponding private key.

The already kept private key creates a paraphrase that is further shared with the server to establish the communication.

Functions of SSH Certificate

  • SSH is responsible for securing all the unsafe networks between the two systems that are trying to communicate.
  • SSH facilitates a tunnel that allows authentication of the user and the server.
  • SSH protects data by disallowing anybody to see the transmission happening between the client and the server.
  • SSH authenticates by using a set of cryptographic keys such as public and private keys.
  • The authentication only happens when the information from the server-side is verified by the client-side and vice-versa.

Why is SSH Important?

In today’s fast-moving world, businesses cannot get confined to operating from a specific workplace.

SSH provides remote access to servers, allowing them to operate, modify, and command their CMS software and website to perform a specific action.

The best part about SSH is that there is no time limit and security issues. You can command for as long as you want.

The security that SSH provides is pretty robust. Nobody can even see your data without authentication through a username and password or cryptographic keys.

Businesses cannot imagine their work without SSH access.

What is SSL/TLS?

Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security certificate facilitates the encryption of data transmitted between a desktop and a server.

An SSL Certificate gets indicated by a grey padlock in front of the website URL in the address bar.

The HTTPS:// also marks the presence of a security protocol such as SSL or TLS.

There is no significant difference between SSL and TLS except TLS originated out of SSL in 2011 and indicated a better SSL version in terms of security.

Both SSL and TLS serve the same encryption purpose by generating cryptographic keys through symmetric and asymmetric cryptography.

How does SSL/TLS work?

To establish a connection, the client-side will request the server side to show its authentication.

The server side will send a copy of its SSL to the client-side for checking. The client-side server then checks and decides whether it’s authentic or not and sends a message back to the server-side.

Now, the server-side will send a digitally signed acknowledgment to the client-side to initiate the encryption process.

The encryption is started by using the asymmetric and symmetric functions involving a private key (that is kept confidential with the client) and a public key (that the client shares with the server to establish a connection).

After the encryption process is completed, a temporary session key is established until the server, and the client stays connected.

Functions of an SSL/TLS Certificate

  • An SSL/TLS certificate ensures that the safety of the data is not compromised.
  • Sensitive data and information are sent in an encrypted format.
  • Only the person that is set to receive will receive the information and nobody else.
  • The authentication process in SSL/TLS ensures that data and information are passed to the right person.
  • The public, private, and session keys ensure that data is passed over a safe network and only till the sender intends to send.

Importance of an SSL/TLS Certificate

Without an SSL/TLS certificate, search engines like Google will ban your website and restrict users from visiting it.

The website that lacks this security protocol is considered to be unsecured and lacks authentication.

If you have a business website, you cannot take the use of SSL/TLS lightly, as its absence may cause you to lose potential customers and clients.

Moreover, SSL/TLS certificates also protect customer payment information by complying with PCI/DSS guidelines.

Bank details, debit/credit card details are all kept safe under SSL/TLS surveillance, which works under the Certificate Authority.

What is the difference between SSH and SSL security protocols?

Now that you know what SSL/TLS and SSH are, how they work, their functions, and their significance, let us compare SSH and SSL.

So, let’s get started:

SSH stands for Secure Shell. SSL/TLS stands for Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security.
SSH operates on port 22. SSL/TLS operates on port 443.
If you want to execute a command on the server, you need SSH for it. SSL/TLS is best to transfer information securely.
SSH has a secure credential(username/password) system for authentication. SSL normally uses X.509 digital certificates for server and client authentication
SSH has a secure network tunnel. SSL/TLS has a digital certification process.
SSH is a remote security protocol, which means you can access it from anywhere. SSL/TLS is used as a security protocol, which keeps hackers and other cybercriminals away from your website.
SSH is entirely safe from remote security threats such as spyware and malware. SSL/TLS facilitates smooth and secure data transmission between the client and the server-side.
SSH facilitates server verification from the client-side and a session key to ensuring that the connection is 100% authentic. In SSL/TLS certificates, the authentication is done through an exchange of Certificate Authority issued digital certificates.

What are the similarities between SSH and SSL/TLS certificates?

It is not always SSH vs. SSL; there are multiple grounds on which they both are similar.

Since both of them are security protocols, let us find out some of the things that make them similar to each other in terms of functions:

SSL/TLS and SSH are PKI Based

Both SSL/TLS and SSH are based on the Public Key Infrastructure, which uses Public, Private, and Sessions keys to establish encryption.

In SSL and SSH, only Public Key is shared with the server-side while the Private key is kept secret; only its paraphrase is sent to the server for authentication and encryption.

The session key facilitates encryption in both the protocols and gets dissolved after the session expires.

In both of them, a new session key gets generated at the beginning of a new session.

SSL/TLS and SSH uses Encryption Technology

Both SSL/TLS and SSH protocols base their functions on encryption. SSL uses certificate exchange, while SSH uses a network tunnel to set up the encryption process.

Both the security protocols encrypt data that is being transferred between the client and the server.

They aim to make the data transfer invisible so that hackers don’t know what is happening.

Even the most sensitive data is smoothly transmitted through the secure tunnel and digital network.

Businesses cannot afford to send sensitive data over an unsecured network, so encryption is necessary.

SSL/TLS and SSH are used to Secure Network

Both SSL/TLS and SSH are used to secure networks so that data can be easily transferred without any hindrance.

The secure network ensures that no hacker can creep in and modify or steal sensitive data.

Where SSH uses network tunnels to secure a network, SSL/TLS uses a secure digital certificate.

Through a secure network, both protocols guard the website security in an optimum manner.

Conclusion on SSH vs. SSL Debate

With cyber threats rising every day, it is pretty clear that both SSH and SSL certificates are necessary for a website’s smooth functioning.

SSL/TLS provides a transparent solution to the cybersecurity problem, whereas SSH acts as a tech-savvy ninjas tool that protects the website data.

The security protocol’s primary aim is to protect the website by securing the network and using PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) to encrypt sensitive data through Public, Private, and Session Keys.

There are various viewpoints about both these protocols. However, businesses in 2021 are inclined towards using both of them as cybersecurity measures.

We hope this article helped you better understand difference between SSH and SSL.


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