What is a SSL Certificate?

What is a SSL Certificate?

What is an SSL(Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate?

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization's details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol (over port 443) and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. It helps to prevent hacker attacks that are based on eavesdropping. Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing browsing of social media sites. SSL Certificates bind together:

  • A domain name, server name or hostname.
  • An organizational identity (i.e. company name) and location.

An organization needs to install the SSL Certificate onto its web server to initiate secure sessions with browsers. Once a secure connection is established, all web traffic between the web server and the web browser will be secure.

Authentication

In addition to encryption, a proper SSL certificate also provides authentication. This means you can be sure that you are sending information to the right server and not to a criminal’s server. Why is this important? The nature of the Internet means that your customers will often be sending information through several computers. Any of these computers could pretend to be your website and trick your users into sending them personal information.  It is only possible to avoid this by using a proper Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and getting an SSL Certificate from a trusted SSL provider.

Why Use SSL? To Gain Your Customers’ Trust

Web browsers give visual cues, such as a lock icon or a green bar, to make sure visitors know when their connection is secured. This means that they will trust your website more when they see these cues and will be more likely to buy from you. SSL providers will also give you a trust seal that instils more trust in your customers

Disadvantages of SSL

With so many advantages, why would anyone not use SSL? Are there any disadvantages to using SSL certificates? Cost is an obvious disadvantage. SSL providers need to set up a trusted infrastructure and validate your identity so there is a cost involved. Because some providers are so well known, their prices can be overwhelmingly high. Performance is another disadvantage to SSL.