SSH and SSL: What’s the Difference?

10 Jan, 2024

Are you trying to learn the difference between SSH and SSL?

SSH and SSL are two methods of encrypting and authenticating data transferred between two computers. Your laptop and your website’s hosting server are an example. SSH and SSL make communication much safer.

In general, they are similar, but they serve different purposes. Therefore, it is vital to understand the differences between SSH and SSL.

SSL encrypts data in transit between two destinations, such as your web browser and the server of a website you’re visiting.

SSL is what makes web browsers display the green padlock. It’s also what you use for accepting credit cards (or other sensitive data) securely on your website.

SSH is a protocol for remotely connecting to another computer and executing commands over a secure connection.

For example, if you want to use WP-CLI to connect to your site’s server, you’ll need to use SSH.

At Rovity, we offer SSH and SFTP access to communicate with your server securely.

Here I will introduce you to both SSH and SSL and explain how you can use them.

What Is SSH?

SSH is short for Secure Shell.

SSH offers a secure way to log in to another computer and run commands remotely.

With SSH tunneling, you can connect a client device to the server in an encrypted mode. Here your computer is the client, and your hosting server is the server.

You will need to authenticate this secure SSH tunnel either with a username/password or with a public/private cryptographic key pair.

Once authenticated, you can access your site’s files and database securely. Or run commands on the remote server via the command line.

How Do You Use SSH?

You can do so many things with SSH.

Once you have logged into your server via SSH, you gain full access. If you understand how to use the command line, you can execute any command that you want.

When you’ve connected via SSH, you can use WP-CLI to communicate with WordPress sites and plugins.

By using WP-CLI, you can create and edit content, apply updates, and many more.

Utilizing SSH not only lets you manage a server via the command line, but it also supports another essential tool; the SFTP.

SFTP stands for SSH File Transfer Protocol. It also is known as Secure File Transfer Protocol.

SFTP lets you connect to your server over a secure SSH tunnel, then manage your files through FTP as you would normally.

What Is SSL?

SSL means Secure Socket Layer.

Although SSL is still commonly used, it is technically just an older version of TLS. Transport Layer Security or TLS is the modern protocol.

Practically, SSL and TLS are the same things. We’ll call it SSL.

SSL is a protocol used to encrypt and authenticate transmitted data between two parties. This transmission is most usually between a web browser and a web server.

At Rovity, we offer free A+ graded SSL Certificates for all of your domains and subdomains.

The following are a few key benefits.

Encryption: SSL encrypts data while it’s in transit, which means that malicious actors can’t intercept that information.

Authentication: SSL also authenticates that data is being sent to and received from the allowed server. SSL prevents Man-in-the-middle Attack with this check.

Data Integrity: Finally, SSL ensures data integrity by making it virtually impossible for the data to be lost or altered during transit.

SSL uses digitally signed certificates, which is why we call it the SSL Certificate.

While SSL is used to help authenticate a server, no client authentication is required. This differs from SSH, which requires authentication from the client.

How Do You Use SSL?

SSL certificates allow you to enable HTTPS to your website. SSL encrypts traffic between your site and your visitors’ browsers.

Your website must have an SSL Certificate installed to build trust with search engines like Google and your visitors.

You can also use SSL to transfer files securely over FTP. It is called File Transfer Protocol over SSL (FTPS).

FTPS is different from SFTP; however, FTPS also makes FTP more secure.

I hope you now know the similarities and differences between SSH and SSL. If you still have any doubts, feel free to ask in the comments.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, then you’ll love Rovity and our fast-growing premium shared hosting on the cloud. Check our subscription plans.

Jafar Muhammed

Jafar Muhammed has 10+ years of experience in WordPress, web hosting, domain names, DNS, CDN, server administration, etc. He is an open web advocate. He is the CEO of Rovity, the fastest-growing premium shared hosting startup in India.