The Difference Between SSH and SSL

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What is the difference between SSH and SSL? One letter. Thank you, have a safe trip home.

Ok, so maybe there’s a little more to it than that. When you look at SSH versus SSL, the two share quite a few similarities — after all, they’re both protocols for creating encrypted tunnels on the internet. The difference between SSH vs. SSL are as follows:

  • SSH and SSL use different ports;
  • They have different use cases; and
  • They end with different letters.

Let’s look at both and compare them side by side to see if we can determine what is the difference between SSL and SSH.

Defining Terms: The Difference Between SSH and SSL

What is SSL?

SSL, which stands for secure sockets layer, is really TLS (transport layer security) now — it’s just we still refer to it colloquially as SSL. Using digital certificates and public key infrastructure (PKI), SSL creates encrypted HTTPS connections between websites and their visitors. HTTPS is meant for the transmission of information and data; it encrypts everything that’s sent between the two parties ensuring its confidentiality. While SSL requires authentication, it’s only on the server side — the client isn’t required to authenticate itself at all.

SSL uses port 443. As of July 2018, it’s mandatory that every website install an SSL certificate to encrypt its connections.

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What is SSH?

SSH, or Secure Shell, is similar to SSL in that they’re both PKI based and both form encrypted communication tunnels. But whereas SSL is designed for the transmission of information, SSH is designed to execute commands. You generally see SSH when you want to log in to some part of a network remotely.

SSH uses port 22 and also requires client authentication. After all, the ability to run commands requires a certain level of permission, so, obviously, you need to confirm the identity of the individual trying to log in.

So, long story short: SSL is for securing internet connections between websites and their visitors; SSH is for running commands via remote access.

Ok, NOW, drive home safely.