SSH vs. SSL: What’s the Difference?

SSH vs. SSL: What’s the Difference?

SSL and SSH are technologies that help to encrypt and authenticate the data that passes from one computer to another (e.g., your laptop and the server of your website) and facilitate enhanced security.  

Although similar in various ways, SSL and SSH serve different purposes. In this article, we’ll go through the significant differences between the two, and get a better understanding of the way they work.  

What Is SSH? 

SSH or Secure Shell, offers a secure way to log in to another computer remotely and issue commands. 

Transferring data over an encrypted SSH connection is called SSH tunneling. Through this, you can create an encrypted remote connection to your website. Of course, authentication through password/username, or a set of cryptographic private/public keys, is necessary to keep it secure.  

After the authentication, you can access any information securely (e.g., files and database of your site) and issue commands to the remote server using a command line. 

READ: What is SSH and How to Use It? 

What Should You Use SSH for? 

Once connected to your server via SSH, you have complete control of your hosting account. Thus, allowing you to execute any command(s) that you want. 

For example, if you are using WordPress, you can use WP-CLI to interact with your WordPress website and plugins once connected with SSH. You can apply updates, manage taxonomies, create content, and more.  

What Is SSL?

SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is technically the older version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. However, for all practical purposes, you can think of TLS and SSL as the same thing. Also note that, to avoid confusion, we will just refer to it as SSL in this article.  

In simple terms, SSL is a protocol that is designed for protecting the transmission of data between two parties with authentication and encryption. This transmission is usually between a user’s web browser and the server of the website they are visiting. A few key benefits are: 

Encryption – SSL encrypts data while it is in transit, meaning the information cannot be intercepted. 

Authentication –  SSL helps prevent man-in-the-middle attacks by ensuring that data is being sent to and received from the correct server. 

Data integrity – SSL also ensures no changes or loss of data during transit.  

What Should You Use SSL for?  

Use SSL on all websites to secure and safeguard access to information. Installing an SSL certificate on a website allows you to enable HTTPS. Remember that the green padlock in the browsers tells visitors that your website is safe.

Once you install the SSL certificate and enable HTTPS, the data that passes between the browsers of your visitors and the website stays secure. This helps build trust with your visitors while establishing credibility on search engines. 

SSH vs. SSL: Similarities and Differences 

By now, you must know there are a lot of similarities between SSL and SSH: 

  • Both help you to create secure connections. 
  • Both encrypt the data passing between one device to another. 

However, the key difference between SSH and SSL is that SSH is used to create a secure tunnel to another computer from which you can transfer data, issue commands, etc.  

Whereas SSL is used to transfer data between two parties securely. You won’t be able to issue commands like with SSH.  

For example, let’s say you are on your laptop. Here are examples of when you would encounter these two protocols: 

SSH – If you want to securely connect to your website’s server and use WP-CLI to manage your WordPress website. 

SSL – If you want to interact with a frontend form on your site to submit data, your web server would use SSL to encrypt the form data as it moves between your browser and the database of your server.  

When you install an SSL certificate and enable HTTPS, anyone who visits your website will interact with the server of your website using SSL — there’s no need to authenticate themselves to access your website. 

However, the only person that interacts with SSH will either be you or other technical users who require direct access to your web server and can authenticate themselves with a password/username or a cryptographic key. 

SSH vs. SSL: Technical Differences 

Here are the technical differences between SSH and SSL: 



It runs on port 22  It runs on port 443 
Based on the network tunnels  Based on digital certificates (SSL certificates) 
It is a cryptographic network protocol  It is a security protocol 
Used to remotely and securely connect to another machine to transfer .data and issue commands.  Used to securely transmit data between two parties — usually a visitor to your website and the server of your website. 
Requires the client to authenticate with a cryptographic key or username/password.  Requires authentication only on the server side (the client is not required to authenticate). 
Protects against IP source routing, DNS spoofing, data manipulation, spoofing of IP addresses, etc.  Primarily used for protecting against man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks and identifying theft. 

 Safeguard Sensitive Data with a Robust SSL Certificate 

By now, you must realise how crucial it is to safeguard data transmission. Fortifying security measures is fundamental if you are trying to establish your business as a credible and authoritative entity.  

BigRock offers Comodo SSL certificates that encrypt and authenticate your website’s identity. It comes with a warranty level, depending on the plan you choose, as well as free additional server licenses. See more of our plans by contacting one of our representatives now. 


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