What Exactly Is TLS 1.2?

What is TLS 1.2

If you are one the proud owners of one of our FM Books Connector Online plug-ins, first, you’re amazing, and second, you may have been alerted by Intuit in this past year of 2017 to 2018 that they are making changes to how applications communicate with their service. More specifically, they are requiring the use of something called “TLS 1.2” when any third-party application needs to talk to a company on QuickBooks Online, and that you should check with the developer if you are using such an application.

Well, fear not, intrepid user! The FM Books Connector Online is fully compatible with this TLS 1.2 business, and you can continue to push invoices and pull customers with impunity and without fear. But that just begs the question:

What exactly IS this TLS 1.2?

Brace yourselves, it’s about to get a little bit techy around here.

In a nutshell, TLS (or “Transport Layer Security”) is a type of protocol or guideline for applications to follow when sending and receiving data with an online service. Adhering to this protocol ensures that, at its topmost level, any communication through the various pathways of the Internet will be secure between the client application and its destination server.

There are many flavors of TLS that have been defined, from versions 1.0 to 1.3, with significant differences in implementation and scope between them all. The most current and widely-accepted form is TLS 1.2, though more and more companies, businesses, browsers, and internet services are putting compatibility with version 1.3 into practice in a bid to be ready for the future.

So, let’s break down the basics of what TLS 1.2 intends to accomplish:

1. Connections between a client and server are private. 

Connections between a client and a server use symmetric encryption to verify that the pathway from start to finish is secure and only the client and server know what they’re sending and receiving.

2. Connections between a client and server are reliable.

Messages arrive at either end of the connection with a special check value that the receiver validates against to ensure that the whole message has arrived and with no modifications made between the two endpoints.

3. The TLS protocol should be portable such that any independent programmer can utilize it in their applications.

The protocol is designed such that any programmer in any language can make use of it, and it will properly exchange cryptographic information regardless of whose code is involved.

4. The TLS protocol should act as a single, fluid framework, so that there is no need to break its methods and provisions into separate libraries.

With an “all-in-one” approach, the main protocol library only needs to be updated to take advantage of new features, instead of requiring a developer to remove the existing library and insert the newer, different library.

These main goals evolved through the need for increased security in an increasingly online world. In the context of our FM Books Connector Online plug-in, when Intuit pushed forward with introducing TLS 1.2 as the minimum standard for any communication, they sought to improve the protection of valuable financial information for their clients by modernizing to more effective security standards. And as a result, the developers who talk to these updated endpoints need to improve their own code to make sure that their applications are also picking up the slack and doing their part to secure the channels.

There’s plenty more to TLS, exploring the ins and outs of the protocol, exceptions, and gotchas galore. But when it all boils down to it, the important takeaway is that using version 1.2 clears several potential issues that can arise from internet communication. And as stated earlier, there’s still more to come, but we’ll cross that protocol when we get to it!

The good news for you is that if you are using our FM Books Connector Online plug-in, you don’t have to worry about these technical details or associated programming. We have handled it all for you! However, you do need to ensure that you are using version or higher.

Interested in learning more? Want some “light reading” about TLS 1.2? Check out the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) RFC 5246 documentation talking all about TLS 1.2. It’s a doozy!

Enjoy! --> https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5246