What is an SSL Certificate (SSL Security)?
Secure Sockets Layer or SSL relies on OSCP protocol (Online Certificate Status Protocol) to check the SSL certificate status before your website is shown to the user. The OSCP protocol identifies that your website has SSL and then encrypts the shared data to protect it from phishers and hackers.
See this Google support document on How to Safeguard Your SSL.
SSL security has become the standard for securing the connection between two interacting systems using the Internet. SSL is a technology that safeguards all information transferred from one website to another or from one server to another.
When people browse the Internet, they get information from the websites they visit; the Internet is also getting information from website visitors. Unfortunately, others may use this information for malicious activities that can harm people financially, mentally, or emotionally. It is, therefore, necessary to have a more secure browsing experience.
Fortunately, organizations such as Google have made the initiative to make the web a safer place to browse through the use of HTTPS protocols that encrypts and secures all transmitted information when browsing the web.
SSL ensures that any data transferred between a user and a website is encrypted and unreadable to unauthorized people or programs. In addition, SSL uses algorithms that encrypt data while it is in transit so that hackers will not decipher the information even if they manage to get hold of it. Information such as credit card numbers and personal information sent by a user to an e-commerce website are some of the most sought-after data by hackers.
Websites that use this SSL technology are given digital certificates called SSL certificates, authenticating that these websites are using an encrypted connection. Any information exchanged between the user and websites that add an SSL certificate are safe and secured.
How Long Has SSL Been Around?
SSL technology is not brand new and has been around for more than twenty-five years already. However, since its development by Netscape in 1995, version 1.0 of SSL was riddled with numerous security flaws. After that, software companies created numerous iterations of SSL, but both the 2.0 and the 3.0 versions still had some serious flaws.
SSL protocols were revamped numerous times until a successful successor was developed. Transport Layer Security (TSL) succeeded where SSL did not. However, TSL and SSL are so similar in their objectives that the initials SSL remain in usage to describe the data encryption protocols of websites and servers.
How Do SSL Certificates Work?
The main role of SSL certificates is to ensure that any transmitted data between websites and servers are encrypted so that hackers will not be able to make use of them even if they obtained these data. Potential information such as the personal and financial data of users are protected.
Here are the steps on how SSL certificates protect data.
- Before a user gains access to a website, the browser will first attempt to connect to a web server and ask the server to identify itself.
- The web server or the website will send a copy of its SSL certificate.
- The user’s browser will then assess the authenticity of the website security certificate and will signal the website or server if it approves the SSL certificate.
- The user’s browser and the website will then establish a digital agreement, also known as an “SSL handshake,” to start an SSL encryption of any data transmitted between them.
- The browser and the website will then transmit data until users end their browsing sessions or leave the website.
While the above process appears lengthy, all these processes are completed within milliseconds to allow users to have immediate access to SSL-certified websites.
See our Https & SSL Slide-Share post for additional information.
How Will You Know Which Websites are SSL-Certified?
Websites that purchase an SSL certificate will have an added letter on their URL acronym converting HTTP to HTTPS. Instead of the conventional HTTP letters at the start of the URL, which stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the letter S will be added at the end to represent that the URL is secured. Likewise, a padlock icon will also appear on the URL of the website, and the HTTPS acronym will appear in green.
Web browsers will red flag websites that have unsecured connections by showing a red opened padlock before the URL of the website or a warning triangle on top of the padlock.
If you want to know the details and check the SSL certificate for a website, you can click on the lock icon to reveal the details, which includes the following:
- Domain Name for the SSL Certificate
- For Whom the Certificate was issued to
- The Certificate Authority who issued the Certificate
- Issuance and Expiry Date of the Certificate
- Subdomains Included in the SSL Certificate
- The Public Key
Large tech organizations such as Google have been working hard to make the web a safer place for browsing, with users being assured that their sensitive information will not fall into the wrong hands. As a result, Google encourages website owners to buy an SSL certificate for their websites. In addition, to pressure website owners, Google had announced that Google will mark all sites that have yet to install an SSL Certificate, especially with the release of their Chrome 68 Browser.
This is good news for any website that also relies on SEO strategies to improve their rankings and website traffic.
Advantages of Having SSL or Website Security Certificate?
Having an SSL certificate will ensure that your website visitors will have their personal and financial data protected during transmittal from their browsers to your web server. While SSL protocols have been around for more than a couple of decades, website owners have delayed adopting them because of the SSL certificate cost. However, today, some hosting companies offer a free SSL certificate for your single-domain website or the cost can be a lot more affordable.
The price of SSL security can range from $8.00 to $985 per year, depending on the size of your site and its security requirements.
The price to buy or renew an SSL certificate is now significantly lower than even a few years ago. There is no reason why website owners cannot get their sites SSL-certified. Here are some of the benefits of having an SSL certificate.
The main role of an SSL certificate is to protect any data that is transmitted between users and the websites they are accessing. When your website is SSL-certified, every bit of information that a visitor provides is locked during transmission and can only be unlocked by the intended website. Thus, no one except the intended recipient can open and read the transmitted information.
SSL security helps keep the web a safer place for transacting e-commerce. For example, information containing credit cards, addresses, and other personal and financial information of users are protected against malicious intent.
SSL Certificates Confirm Website’s Identities
Today, there are a lot of fake websites trying to scam people out of money. These websites will appear as legit websites with content that shows testimonials of money-earners who have invested in them. However, when you dig deeper into the authenticity of these websites, you will find out that they are fake and were created only to scam people.
Installing an SSL security certificate will force websites to go through a validation process by an independent and trustworthy third party known as the Certificate Authority (CA). CAS verifies the authenticity and identities of a website and its domains using stringent industry standards. More than a hundred Certificate Authorities worldwide ensure that only legitimate, secure, and verified websites get an SSL or a TSL certificate.
Once a Certificate Authority verifies a business and its website, the website will get indicators such as the green HTTPS acronym and the padlock icon to vouch for its integrity. Likewise, users can click on the padlock icon to know the details of the issued SSL certificate. These details will allow users to know who or what organization is behind their transacting website.
Improves Search Engine Rankings
Having an SSL Certificate will also do wonders for your website’s rankings on search engine results pages. Google and other search engines reward websites with HTTPS and SSL security, and may give a boost to rankings. Given everything being equal, a website with an SSL certificate will rank better than one without it. In addition, websites that rank high in SERPs will have better chances of reaching a wider target audience.
Allows Your Website to Comply with PCI DSS Requirements
Websites that accept online payments must comply with the stringent requirements set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI Data Security Standard. One of the primary requirements of PCI DSS is for eCommerce websites to configure SSL certificates to prevent customers’ financial information from being obtained and used by hackers.
Develops Customer Trust and Company Credibility
One main benefit of having a website security certificate is that it helps you gain customer trust and establish your business’s credibility. If you will see it from a customer’s point of view, a website that has gone through all the processes to verify their identity and ensure that customer data is protected is a website that can be trusted. In addition, SSL security is an indication that the company behind the website values their customer’s safety and security and is a company worth transacting business with.
SSL will Become Mandatory in the Future.
For example, Google has started red-tagging websites that have yet to install an SSL certificate with a “Not Secure” warning on the URL bar. It will not be long before other major search engines will follow the same practice. It is, therefore, necessary for all websites to have an SSL certification so that users will know which websites are safe to use and which ones to avoid.
Do You Need an SSL Certificate?
SSL Certificates have established the identities of websites that are safe to use. Therefore, having SSL security for your business and personal websites will give you many advantages because it adds an impenetrable layer of security for your website to help gain your target audience’s trust.