What is an SSL certificate and what does it do?

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With the technology advancements today, online security is proving to the one of the most important aspects of any business. Five years ago maybe, it would have been optional, now it is a necessity for every enterprise.

Online security not only protects you but also protects your customer and people who visit your website. The user’s approach and views on your company and the website changes dramatically once they realize that your company’s website is secure for them to use without worrying about their safety online, especially for any online transaction. Read on to find out How you can gain this level of trust with your users?


Introduction to SSL

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. SSL establishes a secure session for communication between the website and the user (i.e. Users web browser). The communication between the user and the website is secure because the data being sent and received is encrypted. The SSL certificates are mainly used if you want your communication, for example email, to be private and secure.


What’s an SSL Certificate?


An SSL certificate is a nothing but a piece of code contained within a digital file. The two main functions that an SSL certificate carries out are:

Verification: – When you visit any website which is verified as secure by a Certified Authority, your web browser (Firefox, Chrome, IE, etc.) will display the name of organization in Green along with a small PadLock somewhere around the name, and the website URL will say “https” instead of “http”. The S stands for Secure. When you click on it, it will also display the details of the company which runs the website and also the name of the Certified Authority which has issued the certificate.

Encryption: – The encryption provided by the SSL certificate ensures that all the data sent and received between the user’s browser and the server can only be read by the sender and the receiver and no one else. Any information intercepted cannot be read by any third party.


How it works?

When an SSL certificate is issued by a Certified Authority, it is issued to the domain name (website) and a specific server. Therefore, any communication henceforth between the user’s browser and the server requires something called SSL Handshake, following which, any data sent or received is in encrypted form.

SSL certificate is a must for any e-commerce website which requires online transaction. Banking websites also, of course, have SSL certificate issued for their site. If for some weird reason, your bank doesn’t have SSL certificate, avoid doing any kind of online transaction, and maybe even change your bank, if possible.


Types of SSL certificates

There are different types of SSL certificates available for you to choose from, depending on your need and the kind of business you hold. Here are some;

Domain Validated: – The only verification that is required to issue the certificate is by verifying that the domain is actually owned by the person who has applied for the certificate.

Self-Signed: – As the name suggests, it is not issued by any CA. The users themselves generate their own certificate. It does not hold any value or integrity of course and cannot be relied upon.

CA – Signed: – This is the true SSL certificate which is issued by one of the Certified Authorities. It is highly secure and reliable and reputed companies across the globe have it. It is not issued to every other company that applies for it. There is a certain criteria required and a lot of parameters, and various stages of verification of the company is involved. It takes longer than others to be issued, as the CA not only verifies the company but also the person who has applied for it.

Extended Validation Certificate: – Extended Validation offers a highest level of security as per the industry standards. It offers the same level of encryption and security as the CA Signed certificate, except that in EV Certificate, the user’s browser shows the information about the company as well as the company which issued the certificate.


Who provides SSL certificate

Symantec is undoubtedly one of the largest internet security providers and owns not one but three companies which are Certified Authorities, who issue SSL certificates. The companies are VeriSign, Thawte and GeoTrust. Other CA’s include GoDaddy, GlobalSign and Comodo.

Photo Credit – David Bleasdale/Flickr

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Darshik Jariwala is an IT Professional from Canada, with 3+ years of experience and knowledge in various verticals in the IT industry. In his leisure time, he loves writing Blogs, Reading, watching Movies, occasional Photography and most of all having coffee with friends. You can also befriend him on , and .

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