What is an SSL Certificate?
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You may have heard of a “Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate” but you’re not sure what it means or if you need it. Luckily for you, we’re going to explain what SSL Certs are.

What is an SSL Certificate?

A Secure Sockets Layer Certificate is a digital certificate that validates a website’s identity and encrypts it’s connection. To put it simple, it makes your website more secure. When you put an SSL Cert on your website a padlock will appear to the left of your domain in your browser. This verifies to users on your site that it is safe and has an SSL Cert. Your domain will also start with “https://” instead of “http://”.  This also verifies that your website is safe to all your users.

Most companies and organisations opt to buy and SSL Cert for their website to keep any transactions and customer information secure.

The History of Security Layers on Websites

Since the idea of SSLs began roughly 25 years ago, there have been several versions of the SSL protocol. All of these protocols had ran into troubles at some point which is when a new version was created called “Transport Layer Security (TLS)” which is in use today. Although it was given a new name the old name SSL stuck so many people still call the new version SSL.

How do SSL Certs Work?

SSLs work through encrypting the data being transferred between two devices, usually users and websites. Encrypting the connection between two devices essentially makes the data being transferred unreadable which prevents hackers from stealing the data.

The process for websites works like this:

  1. A browser attempts to connect to a website (a web server with an SSL)
  2. The browser requests that the website identifies itself
  3. The website sends a copy of the its’ SSL Cert in response
  4. The browser checks the SSL to see if it’s secure, if it is it then sends a message to start an SSL encrypted session
  5. Any data sent between the website and browser is then encrypted.

This process is usually referred to as an “SSL Handshake” which takes place in milliseconds.

Now you understand what an SSL Certificate is and how it works, you should check out our blog on “Why Your Website Needs an SSL Certificate” which will be posted next week.

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