SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. This creates a data tunnel across multiple nodes on a network (such as the internet) to encapsulate your data from the beginning to the end with a method of encryption. Yes, it's possible to "break" this encryption by a simple MITM (Man in the middle) attack, but unlikely.
Why do I need it?
You don't. You can definitely connect to most IRC servers without SSL. You can even connect to irc.hackthissite.org on port 6667 without SSL, and it will work fine. But, the main channel (#hackthissite) is set to only allow users using an SSL connection to join. So, if you're wishing to join #hackthissite, you will need SSL.
Using SSL with mIRC, the best client ever! (Windows only)
Most users are using mIRC, a very nice Windows IRC client. HackThisSite has taken the effort to make using SSL on mIRC a little easier. By default, mIRC is installed to C:\Program Files\mIRC\. Otherwise you purposefully have it set somewhere else. To get mIRC using SSL, copy these two files to wherever you have mIRC.exe.
Once you have those two files in the mIRC directory, you'll need to close mIRC if it's open. Restart it, and go to the "status" window. The first thing you want to do is run this command.
//echo -a SSL will work $sslready
If you have those files in the correct directory, then this should echo "SSL will work $true". If it says $false, then review the steps for downloading the files, and try again.
Now we just have to connect using the SSL connection. This command handles that for us...
/server irc.hackthissite.org +7000
You'll notice there is a '+' in front of the 7000. That '+' tells mIRC to use an SSL connection, and to use it, in this case, on port 7000 (the SSL port for HTS). This will get you connected, and you can /join #hackthissite and whatever other channels you'd like.
Using SSL with X-Chat, a multi-platform IRC client.
On windows the offical X-Chat build comes with SSL builtin to the client, several unoffical xchat builds for windows also include SSL aspart of their installation. The offical xchat build is avalable for a 30 day trial (however this can be easily circumvented by setting the clock back). On linux Xchat is free and has builtin SSL support using OpenSSL, consult your package manager documentation on how to install OpenSSL and Xchat.
To connect to HTSIRC using SSL in xchat use the following command:
/server -ssl irc.hackthissite.org 7000
If you're going to frequently connect to SSL servers, create a new network in the network list and ensure that the checkboxes labelled "Use SSL for all servers on this network" and "Accept invalid SSL certificate" are checked.
Information about HTSIRC
Default port: 6667
SSL Ports: 6697,7000
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