5 Best SSL/TLS Books for Network Security in 2021

One of the ways to make communication secure? SSL/TLS protocol. Photo by Brunno Tozzo on Unsplash.

One of the ways to make communication secure? SSL/TLS protocol. Photo by Brunno Tozzo on Unsplash.

SSL/TLS protocol is used for securing communication on the network by ensuring data confidentiality, data integrity, and authenticity between the communicating party. 

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and it refers to a protocol for encrypting and securing communications that take place on the Internet. Although SSL was replaced by an updated protocol called TLS (Transport Layer Security) some time ago, "SSL" is still a commonly used term for this technology.

The main use case for SSL/TLS is securing communications between a client and a server, but it can also secure email, VoIP, and other communications over unsecured networks.

In this post, we have put the spotlight on the best books on SSL/TLS through a collection of book reviews. Each book review will highlight the taste of the book, the contents covered, and how it can benefit you.


Why Learn SSL/TLS

Here's why you should learn SSL/TLS:

  • SSL and TLS are widely deployed security protocols that are used in all kinds of web-based e-commerce and e-business applications. They are part of most contemporary security systems available today.

  • SSL is essential for protecting your website, even if it doesn't handle sensitive information. It keeps sensitive information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient can access it.

  • SSL makes sure that any data transferred between users and sites, or between two systems remain impossible to read. It uses encryption algorithms to scramble data in transit, preventing hackers from reading it as it is sent over the connection.


What Makes Best SSL/TLS Books?

What makes an SSL/TLS book good? Good question, but there’s no easy answer! 

There are a few criteria that make a book worth reading. 

  • The contents are well-organized and well structured.

  • The book is concise and easy to understand.

  • Contain exercises, examples, and practice problems for hands-on experience.

  • Engaging and able to hold the attention of readers.


Best Books on SSL/TLS 

It is important to find an outstanding book that can guide your learning. Here, we have reviewed a list of excellent books for SSL/TLS:


1. Best Introductory Book: SSL and TLS

SSL and TLS: Theory and Practice by Rolf Oppliger provide modernized material and a comprehensive overview of the SSL/TLS and DTLS protocols. This practical book provides a complete introduction to SSL/TLS protocols.

This book includes coverage on the advantages and disadvantages of using SSL/TLS protocols compared to other Internet security protocols. It provides the details necessary to correctly implement the protocols while saving time on the security practitioner's side. The book includes the following topics:

  • SSL Protocol

  • TLS Protocol

  • DTLS Protocol

  • Firewall Traversal

  • Public Key Certificates and Internet PKI

  • Concluding Remarks

  • Registered TLS Cipher Suites

  • Padding Oracle Attacks

The book gives perspective on the many extensions in the latest TLS protocol like cipher suites, certificate management, and alert messages.


2. Best Book for Total Beginners: SSL/TLS Under Lock and Key

SSL/TLS Under Lock and Key by Paul Baka and Jeremy Schatten is a great introduction to SSL/TLS theory and practice. The book is both easy to understand and also technically detailed.

The first half of our book focuses on foundational theory. The second half encourages fledgling administrators to jump in with both feet, outlining the quirks of common tasks. 

  • Chapter 1 introduces you to SSL, TLS, and Cryptography

  • Chapter 2 talks about Common Protocols

  • Chapter 3 covers Public Key Infrastructure

  • Chapter 4 talks about  X.509 Certificates

  • Chapter 5 talks about Vulnerabilities and Flaws

  • Chapter 6 covers the Implementation

  • Chapter 7 talks about OpenSSL

  • Chapter 8 covers HTTP/2 and HTTP

  • Chapter 9 talks about Quick-Start Configuration

This book is geared towards bridging the gap between the absolute beginner and the expert IT Professional. It combines the theoretical and the practical in equal measure.


3. Best book for completionists: Bulletproof SSL and TLS: Understanding and Deploying SSL/TLS and PKI

Bulletproof SSL and TLS by Ivan Ristic helps you to understand and deploy SSL/TLS and PKI to secure servers and web applications. The book gives comprehensive coverage of the ever-changing field of SSL/TLS and Internet PKI, with updates to the digital version.

It teaches you everything you need to know to protect your systems from eavesdropping and impersonation attacks. In this book, you'll find just the right mix of theory, protocol detail, vulnerability and weakness information, and deployment advice to get your job done.

The book is divided into four parts and twelve chapters. 

Part I: SSL/TLS and PKI

  • Chapter 1 covers SSL, TLS, and Cryptography

  • Chapter 2 covers TLS 1.3

  • Chapter 3 covers TLS 1.2

  • Chapter 4 covers Public Key Infrastructure

Part II: Problems and Attacks

  • Chapter 5 talks about Attacks against PKI

  • Chapter 6 covers HTTP and Browser Issues

  • Chapter 7 talks about implementation issues

  • Chapter 8 covers Protocol Attacks

Part III: Deployment and Development

  • Chapter 9 talks about Performance

  • Chapter 10 covers HSTS, CSP, and Pinning

  • Chapter 11 talks about TLS Configuration Guide

Part IV: OpenSSL Command-Line

  • Chapter 11 talks about working with OpenSSL

  • Chapter 12 talks about Testing TLS servers with OpenSSL

This book is an outstanding resource for understanding the theory and practical use of SSL/TLS! It is in fact the most comprehensive book about deploying TLS in the real world!


Other books you may like:


4. Best Book for a Deep Dive: TLS Mastery: Tux edition

TLS Mastery: Tux edition by Michael W Lucas teaches you how TLS works and gives the appropriate level of detail. The 237-pages book takes you through:

  • How TLS works

  • What TLS provides, and what it doesn't

  • Wrapping unencrypted connections inside TLS

  • Assessing TLS configurations

  • The Automated Certificate Management Environment (ACME) protocol

  • Using Let's Encrypt to automatically maintain TLS certificates

  • Online Certificate Status Protocol

  • Certificate Revocation

  • CAA, HSTS, and Certificate Transparency

  • Why you shouldn't run your own CA, and how to do it anyway

The book gives a breezy, entertaining walk through an extremely complicated technical subject. After reading the book, you will be able to set up your TLS services correctly.


5. Best book for Bloggers on a Budget: Secure Your WordPress Website with HTTPS for free

Secure Your WordPress Website with HTTPS for free is an Amazon Kindle Unlimited exclusive. It’s not exactly ‘free,’ but included with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

The book is by Dr. Andy Williams shows you how to get a free certificate and install it so that your site is secure. In the process, you'll also add your website to Cloudflare to help protect your website from hackers and spammers.

Here's what you will learn in the book.

  • What SSL is and why it is important for a website to have that HTTPS prefix

  • How HTTPS works and how to set it up on your website

  • What Cloudflare is and why you should be using it

  • How to change the DNS at your registrar

  • Types of SSL offered by Cloudflare

  • How to create a free origin certificate at Cloudflare and how to install it on your server

  • How to secure your WordPress dashboard

  • How to set up redirects

  • What mixed content is, how to find it, and how to fix it

  • How to update Google Analytics

This book is filled with practical information and compiled in a step-by-step way. I highly recommend this book to anybody with a website.


More ways to learn SSL/TLS

These books serve as a great resource for those who want to learn best through reading. If you have made it this far then certainly you are willing to learn more from online courses.

Here's a list that can help:

  • Coursera: Cryptography course is part of the Cybersecurity Specialization. This course teaches the foundations of modern cryptography, with an eye toward practical applications, which includes SSL and TLS.

  • Udemy:

    • SSL/TLS Fundamentals, a 2.5 hours high-rated course that helps to learn the fundamentals of SSL/TLS and how it works.

    • SSL Complete Guide 2021: HTTP to HTTPS is an 11-hour high-rated course that teaches you all about securing websites with SSL/TLS certificates. The course includes tons of practical activities and lifetime-long access to 100 lectures.

  • Codecademy: Introduction to Cybersecurity is a free, interactive course that teaches how to protect against cyber threats and attacks with network security fundamentals.

That’s not all. If you’re looking for free resources, we also suggest over 70 coding resources that are free online.

Miranda Limonczenko

Miranda is the founder of Books on Code, with a mission to bring book-lover culture to programmers. Learn more by checking out Miranda on LinkedIn.


7 Best SQL Books for Beginners in 2021


5 Best Books on Designing Elegant REST APIs in 2021