SNI SSL vs. IP SSL – Know the Difference Between the Two

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sni ssl vs ip ssl difference

SNI Lets SSL Certificate Binds Website With a Shared IP Address Which Isn’t Usual

Rarely but you may come across terms such as an IP SSL and SNI SSL or websites informing their site visitors about SNI SSL vs. IP SSL. These terms were usual in the earlier days of SSL certificates when maps were kept in glove boxes, and phones were simply phones and not smartphones.

Nonetheless, let’s have a side-by-side comparison of both: SNI SSL Vs. IP SSL and understand how both differ from each other.

SNI SSL CertificatesIP SSL Certificates
SNI SSL certificates links with hostnames.IP SSL certificates are links with unique IP Addresses.
SNI SSL certificates are helpful for both dedicated servers and shared servers.IP SSL certificates are used only with shared servers. Likewise, the website should be assigned with a dedicated IP address.
SNI SSL certificates may not be compatible with older versions of browsers or systems. Likewise, browsers that are compatible with SNI are: Mozilla Firefox 2.0 & above.Opera 8.0 & above.Google Chrome 5.0.342.1 & above.Opera 8.0 & above.An SSL certificate is the older method for encrypting the connection, and it’s possible to use it for older systems that aren’t compatible with SNI.

SNI SSL vs. IP SSL – A Brief Overlook on Both

SNI is an extension used for the TLS protocol that allows websites or domains hosted using a shared server under one IP address to be mapped with an individual certificate. Furthermore, during the TLS handshake, the client hello uses the SNI field (the hostname to which it gets connected). Likewise, the server parses the request and sends it back to the appropriate certificate to finish the ongoing encryption connection.

sni ssl vs ip ssl

And IP SSL certificates are expensive, and they have multiple websites due to the limited number of IPv4 addresses. Also, the IP SSL certificate uses the server’s dedicated IP address, the one on which the website is hosted, for mapping the cheap SSL certificate to the website.

SNI (Server Name Indication)

SNI (Server Name Indication) is an addition to the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol, which binds with a website hosted on a shared server and associated SAN SSL certificate using its hostname. Furthermore, an IP SSL certificate binds with an SSL certificate with an account having a unique IP address.

server name indication

SNI SSL vs. IP SSL – Background Check

In the beginning, there was only OV (Organization Validated) SSL. In those times, websites that only dealt with sensitive information like financial details of the site visitors only required SSL. Likewise, those who needed SSL had their legitimate business, so getting OV (Organization Validated) SSL issued wasn’t a problem. In addition, usage of OV SSL certificate was only in the USA.

Furthermore, OV SSL was the only SSL certificate, and even today, it’s the only SSL that’s issued for IP Addresses. But, today’s date, it’s a selling point, and earlier, it was a hidden fact as each website required its own IP addresses. Likewise, SSL wasn’t an option in shared hosting environments where more than one website resides on the same IP address. And, later in 2003, Server Name Indication (SNI) was introduced, which became an extension of TLS.

TLS (Transport Layer Security) is an advanced version of SSL. Though SSL was used in the beginning to secure HTTP connections but, vulnerabilities started showing up. To overcome vulnerabilities, SSL versions got upgraded to 3.0, and finally, it got replaced by TLS, which further got upgraded in other versions.

Key Difference Between SSL & TLS

The difference between SSL and TLS is seen in the connection. For instance, SSL connects directly with port 443, and TLS starts with a Hello using an insecure channel and then moves to port 443 and a successful handshake. Likewise, TLS and SSL are both entirely different protocols, though they serve the same function and are used interchangeably even today.

Wrapping Up

Discussing about SNI SSL certificate or IP SSL certificate isn’t commonly seen. However, if you encounter such terminologies, don’t be confused about them, as they were popular and often used in the past. Likewise, browsers are aware of it, and as a user, you don’t have to worry as you won’t face any situation where you come across compatibility issues due to SNI. Lastly, all types of websites need an SSL certificate installed, so it’s evident that you’ll need to install an SSL certificate if you’ve got a website.

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Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.

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