HTTP, MySQL, DDoS, SaaS… You’d think high-tech specialists wouldn’t have time to write down whole words. With all the acronyms and other abbreviations that we encounter on the Internet, it is sometimes difficult to find your way around.
In this article we will talk about 2 of them: SSL and SSH. What do these abbreviations mean, and does the comparison SSH vs SSL make sense?
We’ll look at what each term means, and then we’ll see what SSL and SSH are for.
What is SSH?
SSH stands for “Secure Shell”. It is a protocol that allows people to control a server remotely, over the Internet.
In general, a Secure Shell connection occurs when a user has a server (often a hard drive or a single computer). This person goes to another computer that is not in the same location. They connect to the internet with an SSH connection, to completely control everything on the original server. This can be for :
- Adding new files,
- The deletion of some others,
- Or even the total reformatting of the disk.
Many servers are accessible via remote connections. When you run a website, chances are that your website files are hosted on another server, in another region, country or at least another room.
You can try to go to your hosting company and ask to see your server to connect to it directly, but it would be very surprising if they let you enter their premises, let alone handle their expensive servers… That’s not to mention the fact that it would be completely inconvenient to go there.
A remote internet connection is therefore necessary.
Unfortunately, a remote connection offers hackers the opportunity to intercept data transfers. This is where SSH comes in: the protocol will indeed secure the remote connection between your computer and the server.
The purpose of SSH is to prevent your file transfers from being intercepted, and to ensure that hackers cannot find access to place their own malware on that server.
What is SSL?
SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” – now you’re getting somewhere, aren’t you? The simplest way to define SSL is that it is a data encryption tool for your website.
An SSL connection encrypts the data sent and received between a website and its user. This way, no one else can see what is going on in these communications.
Encrypting your communications on a website prevents hackers from stealing your personal or financial information.
Without SSL, it is possible for a malicious actor to come between your web browser and the site you are visiting, to see the information you have submitted, such as your password or credit card information.
For example, if you use WiFi at your local coffee shop, a hacker connected to that same WiFi hotspot could spy on all the data you send between your web browser and a website that does not have SSL.
Fortunately, SSL (and its companion HTTPS) scramble that data for the outside world. The user and the website can still communicate seamlessly, but anyone trying to spy on this traffic would be left with incomprehensible gibberish that is very difficult to decipher.
This contributes greatly to the privacy of all visitors to a website, which is especially important when you entrust sensitive information to a website and, of course, the best example remains making a purchase from an online store, in which you enter your credit card numbers.
Although there are other applications for these protocols, the fundamental differences are clear: to the question “SSH, SSL: what differences?” you are now asked not to answer “a letter”.
SSH is a tool for webmasters and other technicians to secure a connection to the server, while SSL is a protocol for securing websites, which, while transparent to the user, is nevertheless an integral part of digital life. Of course, these two protocols are not incompatible: SSH can use SSL as part of its own security.
In the face of the threats we all unfortunately face, the presence of these protocols is paramount. Without these two protocols, we would not have the security to do everything we do on the Internet today.