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explain like I’m five: what is TLS?

When a web page is “TLS secured”, it means the data transmitted between the user’s web browser and the server hosting that web page is protected using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. Here’s what it entails in simple terms:

  1. Encryption: Data sent between your browser and the server is scrambled so that even if someone intercepts the data, they won’t easily understand what it means. This prevents eavesdroppers from reading sensitive data, such as passwords or credit card numbers.
  2. Authentication: The server provides a certificate, often issued by a trusted third-party called a Certificate Authority (CA), to prove its identity to the client (your web browser). This ensures you’re communicating with the genuine server and not a malicious one pretending to be legitimate (which could be the case in man-in-the-middle attacks).
  3. Data Integrity: TLS ensures that the data you send and receive hasn’t been tampered with during transmission. Even if someone intercepts the data, they can’t modify it without being detected.
  4. Secure Indicator: When a page is secured with TLS, you’ll typically see “https://” in the URL instead of “http://”, and many browsers will display a padlock icon. These indicators show that the connection is secured using TLS.

In summary, when you access a “TLS secured” page, you can be more confident that your data is protected as it moves between your browser and the server, you’re talking to the genuine server, and the data hasn’t been tampered with. It’s a foundational element of web security for sites that handle sensitive information.