What is an SSL port?

SSL certificates are integral to staying secure online, encrypting connections so that everyone’s data stays safe and secure while in transit. If you’re familiar with SSLs.com, maybe you already know that. But even if you know about the function of SSL certificates, perhaps you’ve come across the term SSL port and not understood what it is. 

If so, let us do the honors of explaining. An SSL port is an underlying technical aspect of how SSL certificates work the way they do. The first thing you need to know is that an SSL port is a type of TCP port.

What is a TCP port?

Before you can learn what an SSL port is, we’ll need to look at what a port is, and by extension, what a TCP port is. A port is a connection point on a network that implements specific processes or services. They serve as an interface between computers that dictate how to treat incoming and outgoing requests. Ports are numbered and standardized, with each serving a specific purpose. There are 65,353 ports altogether; however only 1023 are commonly used. These are known as well-known ports. And most of these are TCP ports. 

Short for transmission control protocols, TCPs are a type of communication port used to reliably send data across the Internet and other networks. How a network handles traffic it receives depends on which ports are open. Some commonly used TCP ports and their functions for websites and email include:

  • 21 – FTP
  • 22- SSH
  • 25 – SMTP
  • 80 – HTTP
  • 143 – IMAP
  • 990 – FTPS
  • 3306 – MySQL

Which TCP port is an SSL port?

Before you add an SSL to a website, it uses the unsecured HTTP protocol by default to send and receive data. HTTP connections use port 80. When port 80 is implemented, it will not encrypt traffic. In contrast, secure HTTPS connections use port 443, which does encrypt traffic. In order to use port 443, you must have an SSL certificate installed on the server, which is why it is also commonly referred to as an SSL port. If you try to open port 443 without having an SSL, it will likely result in a connection error. While port 443 is the default port for HTTPS, other ports use SSL also, such as ports 8443, 2096, 993, and 465.

How to enable SSL port 443

If you have a website and want to foster a secure HTTPS connection, you simply need to install an SSL certificate on your server. That will trigger port 443 to open. You may have to open it manually if it doesn’t automatically. Check with your server provider for guidance on how to do that. 

The takeaway

SSL port 443 is integral to ensuring SSL certificates work by encrypting traffic to and from a web server. You can’t use one without the other, so if you want a secure site, installing an SSL and opening port 443 is essential.

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