What is an SSL certificate?
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser.
Companies and organizations need to add SSL certificates to their websites to secure online transactions and keep customer information private and secure.
In short: SSL keeps internet connections secure and prevents criminals from reading or modifying information transferred between two systems. When you see a padlock icon next to the URL in the address bar, that means SSL protects the website you are visiting.
Since its inception about 25 years ago, there have been several versions of SSL protocol, all of which at some point ran into security troubles. A revamped and renamed version followed — TLS (Transport Layer Security), which is still in use today. However, the initials SSL stuck, so the new version of the protocol is still usually called by the old name.
How do SSL certificates work?
SSL works by ensuring that any data transferred between users and websites, or between two systems, remains impossible to read. It uses encryption algorithms to scramble data in transit, which prevents hackers from reading it as it is sent over the connection. This data includes potentially sensitive information such as names, addresses, credit card numbers, or other financial details.
The process works like this:
1- A browser or server attempts to connect to a website (i.e., a web server) secured with SSL.
2- The browser or server requests that the web server identifies itself.
3- The web server sends the browser or server a copy of its SSL certificate in response.
Why you need an SSL certificate
Websites need SSL certificates to keep user data secure, verify ownership of the website, prevent attackers from creating a fake version of the site, and convey trust to users.
If a website is asking users to sign in, enter personal details such as their credit card numbers, or view confidential information such as health benefits or financial information, then it is essential to keep the data confidential. SSL certificates help keep online interactions private and assure users that the website is authentic and safe to share private information with.
More relevant to businesses is the fact that an SSL certificate is required for an HTTPS web address. HTTPS is the secure form of HTTP, which means that HTTPS websites have their traffic encrypted by SSL. Most browsers tag HTTP sites – those without SSL certificates – as “not secure.” This sends a clear signal to users that the site may not be trustworthy – incentivizing businesses who have not done so to migrate to HTTPS.
An SSL certificate helps to secure information such as:
Types of SSL certificate
There are different types of SSL certificates with different validation levels. The six main types are:
1- Extended Validation certificates (EV SSL)
2- Organization Validated certificates (OV SSL)
3- Domain Validated certificates (DV SSL)
4- Wildcard SSL certificates
5- Multi-Domain SSL certificates (MDC)
6- Unified Communications Certificates (UCC)