What is an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate?
If you land on an insecure website where you have to fill out and submit a form, the information you enter can be intercepted by a hacker. This information can be anything from your email to bank transaction details.
But how do the attacks happen?
Here’s one of the most common methods: a hacker unnoticeably places a program on the server hosting a website that waits in the background until a visitor starts entering personal information. Then it is activated, collecting the information and sending it to the hacker.
However, when you check a website encrypted with an SSL certificate, your browser establishes a connection with the web server and then binds your browser to the server. This binding connection ensures that no one but you and the website can see or access your input.
An SSL certificate is a protocol for the server and web browser to ensure that the data exchanged between them is confidential. That is done via an encrypted connection between the server and the browser.
Netscape first developed SSL in 1995 to ensure privacy, authentication, and data integrity for Internet communications.
Websites requesting personal information (e.g., email address, payment information, etc.) from users should have SSL certificates on their site. That means that the data you collect is confidential. It also guarantees that when your customers see the padlock and HTTPS://, their data is safe.
How does an SSL certificate work?
The SSL certificate is an encryption technology based on two concepts: asymmetric cryptography and symmetric cryptography. Two steps are required to establish a secure connection using SSL: the SSL handshake and the actual data transmission.
The first step is called the SSL handshake, which uses the concept of asymmetric cryptography. This concept involves creating a mathematically related key pair consisting of a public and private key. The public key is given to anyone who wants to communicate with a server, while the private key is kept secret. A browser initiates the connection and receives the public key from the server. It then verifies the public key against the issuing certificate authority (CA) data and ensures that the public key is valid.
This step authenticates the server as legitimate and establishes a secure connection for the actual data transmission. If the public key is invalid, the connection fails, and the data transfer cannot occur. The first step, the SSL handshake, is considered complete only if the public key has been validated.
In the second step, the actual data transfer begins using the second concept, symmetric cryptography. This concept generates a session key that encrypts and decrypts the data. The browser and the website server share the key, which is known only to them. All transmitted data is encrypted with the session key and can only be decrypted with the same key. That ensures a safe and secure process of data transfer.
Websites with SSL certificates must go through these two steps to establish a secure connection for data transfer. All these additional steps increase security and protect users’ data so that the data they submit is safe from interception by third parties.
The importance of SSL certificates
Initially, data on the Internet was transmitted in plain text that anyone could read if they intercepted the message. For example, when a customer visited a shopping website, placed an order, and entered their credit card number, this information was transmitted over the Internet unnoticed.
Developed SSL certificates to solve this problem and protect user privacy. By encrypting the data between a user and a web server, SSL certificates ensure that anyone intercepting the data can only see an encrypted jumble of characters. The customer’s credit card number is now secure and only visible to the shopping website where they entered it.
In short, using an SSL certificate provides four key benefits:
- Authentication: It ensures that the server you are connected to is the correct server.
- Encryption: Protects data transfers (e.g., from server to server, from browser to server, from an application to the server, etc.).
- Data integrity: Ensures that the data requested or transmitted is delivered. Your data is not altered in transit between your client and the servers.
SEO ranking. Since Google has announced SSL certificates as a ranking factor, an SSL certificate can help your website appear higher in search than websites without an SSL certificate.
The benefits of SSL for websites
You may be asking yourself, “Does my website need SSL?” Security needs to be a top priority whether you already have a website or are creating a new one. One of the most secure methods to achieve this is a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate from a recognized authority.
You need to protect the transmission of your customers’ sensitive data on your website against illegal access.
An SSL certificate is a way to transmit data between your customers and your web server that is indecipherable to anyone who might try to spy on the information.
When data is sent between a server and a web browser in clear text, it can fall victim to malicious cyberattacks. An SSL certificate establishes a secure connection to ensure privacy when this data is transmitted.
Using a website without SSL is not secure and can expose all transmitted data to threats.
Here are other advantages of SSL for your website
The way browsers secure the web
After Google introduced a new version of Google Chrome in October 2017, the browser flagged a site without an SSL certificate with a “Not Secure” warning. That applied to websites that handle sensitive customer data, such as credit card numbers.
Another method to tell if a site is secure is if it has “HTTPS” in the URL instead of “HTTP.”
Protect web forms
Websites that ask for detailed customer information like name, email address, and phone number in a contact form need strict measures to protect that data.
So why does your website need SSL? An SSL certificate and HTTPS in your URL will encourage customers to sign up without fear of losing data.
Helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In addition to the direct benefits of SSL, SSL encryption is one of Google’s most important ranking factors. SSL-certified websites are ranked higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Websites that are not secured are automatically moved to the bottom of the results.
Also, website visitors are more likely to stay on your site if they have a secure connection. When Google ranks a site as non-secure, it can lead to a decrease in traffic and revenue.
The improvement in search results applies to all websites, whether you are dealing with sensitive data or not. By installing an SSL certificate, you still get the SEO benefits of SSL.
Protects password logins
Black hat hackers are always trying to attack websites without secure passwords. They can remove or even steal your data.
If you’re still wondering, “Does my website need SSL?” remember that data-driven websites with password-protected pages, including an admin login page, need an SSL certificate.
Avoid sharing your credentials with third parties, whether you have an SSL certificate installed or not, and follow basic password precautions.
Protects user information on member websites
Data theft is a reality in the online world. Even if just a tiny amount of data falls into the hands of a hacker, your entire business could be in trouble.
Encrypting your users’ data protects your brand. Encryption increases your company’s credibility and helps earn your customers’ trust. An SSL certificate reassures your visitors that their data is safe with you.
Gain the trust of your customers
Most e-commerce sites that want to pay with major credit cards must use a merchant account for their transactions. To open a merchant account, you require an SSL certificate. With this certificate, your customers’ credit card information is secure when they shop on your website.
An SSL certificate ensures that your clients can always shop with confidence. When a user logs into a website, their browser checks to ensure the login is secure.
If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, your customer will quickly drop their shopping cart and leave the site. They may never look back.
When does a website need an SSL certificate?
Installing an SSL certificate is a top concern for all website owners. Whether it gathers data or otherwise, it is vital to provide a stress-free surfing experience for all site visitors.
Let’s take a look at some standard website types that require SSL certificates:
Online stores process customer payments, so ensuring secure data transmission is crucial. SSL protects unauthorized people from intercepting information collected from your website and customers, such as usernames, passwords, or payment details.
Common internet browsers like Chrome and Safari warn visitors not to enter personal information on an HTTP website. Customers fear they might steal their credit card details, making them leave your online store.
Since PCI requirements also mandate encryption of cardholder data transmission over open networks, an SSL certificate is required for all websites that collect money online. Alternatively, you can use an SSL-certified payment processor like Paypal to receive online payments.
For example, a portfolio website is just as vulnerable as an eCommerce website. When a potential user fills out a contact form, SSL encrypts the submitted information so hackers can’t access it.
For any government agency, protecting user privacy is critical. Protect data entry forms to prevent cyber criminals from spying on or altering information.
The content must be protected even if a static website doesn’t collect data or accept payments because hackers target anyone who visits HTTP sites.
SSL certificates make your website secure
Installing an SSL certificate does not mean that your website is hack-proof. It only increases the security of the exchanged data. Therefore, it is still necessary to follow basic account and password precautions. Also, ensure that your website is up to date and free from malware.
Making use of an SSL certificate as well as applying these steps will dramatically increase the safety of your site and also its site visitors.
SSL only shields internet sites that process repayments
Whether you run a personal blog site or a business website can promptly compromise your internet safety and security if any information comes into incorrect hands. The website can immediately compromise your internet security if any information falls into the wrong hands.
Credit cards and bank details aren’t the only information cybercriminals go after. It has been found that hackers can use seemingly innocuous email addresses provided in web forms to guess login credentials and attempt to log into other websites.
Therefore, all websites where visitors provide their personal information, such as membership pages, need an SSL certificate to increase security.
Only login pages need SSL
Leaving the login page without HTTPS increases the likelihood that it will hijack other page sessions. There’s an even greater risk when users access your site over public WiFi networks in coffee shops or airports.
Therefore, SSL protection provides a safer browsing experience for every page session.
SSL certificates cost a lot
Some hosting companies offer free SSL certificates with their hosting plans. Depending on your website’s type of SSL certificate, many providers also sell SSL certificates at affordable prices.
Regardless of the type, purchase the certificate from a credible authority.
Types of certificates
Domain Validation SSL certificates (also known as thumbprint certificates) are used to verify the identity of a domain.
This certificate is intended for use with your valid domain name only. This certificate is only valid for a single domain name and, therefore, cannot be used for more than one domain. If you are trying to protect multiple domain names, we recommend creating a separate certificate for each domain name. If you create separate certificates, you must also create separate signing identities.
The Certificate Authority (CA) issues the certificate to the applicant after verifying his registered company and proving that he is legally responsible. The domain and company name of the certified applicant are included in this verification document.
The Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate is a unique, trusted, flexible certificate authority. The EV SSL Certificate is a certificate with an EV signature, a cryptographic signature that ensures the certificate’s authenticity. This certificate is designed to meet the standard’s requirements and is available for industry use.
Multi-Domain SSL Certificate
Multi-domain SSL certificates can use a single certificate to secure multiple domain names. Can use this single certificate to secure all subdomains of a single domain or a single domain and one or more subdomains.
- An SSL certificate contains the following information,
- Name of the owner.
- Validity date and the serial number of the certificate.
- Copy of the SSL owner’s public key.
- The digital signature of the issuing authority.
How do I get an SSL certificate for my website?
If you want an SSL certificate for your website, you can easily buy it from one of the most trusted websites. you can choose from a wide range of SSL certificates to suit your requirements.
Step 1: Choose the appropriate certificate for your website
The different types of SSL certificates are classified based on their validation levels and functionality. Choose the SSL certificate you want to purchase based on your requirements. If you are wondering, “How do I get an SSL certificate for my website?” you can find several SSL options at the link below.
Step 2: Generate the Certificate Signing Request (CSR)
A CSR is a type of request that contains the details of the domain you want to secure with the SSL certificate. It’s a relatively straightforward process.
Step 3: Complete the ordering process
Once you have completed the certificate request, you will receive an order confirmation email from the Certificate Authority (CA) of your choice with a link to submit your CSR.
Step 4: Validation by the CA of your choice
Once you submit the CSR via the link received by email, your request will be reviewed and validated depending on the certificate you selected in Step 1. Once the Certificate Authority has determined your request to be legitimate, it will issue an SSL certificate for your website.
Step 5: Install the SSL/TLS certificate on your server(s)
Usually, you will receive your SSL certificate and all other intermediate certificates through your registered email. Must install the SSL/TLS digital certificate on your server along with its certificate chain.
After that, you can use the SSL Checker to check if the SSL certificate (with its intermediate certificates) has been installed and configured correctly on your servers.
Users always expect a secure browsing experience, regardless of the website’s size. An SSL certificate ensures that sensitive data exchanged between the web server and the browser is secure and increases the website’s trustworthiness.
SSL not only supplies an extra layer of protection against malicious intent but is also essential for improving the SEO performance of the website. Secure websites have a greater chance of ranking higher in search engine results.
However, an SSL certificate is only the first line of defense that prevents attackers from intercepting sensitive data. Other security measures are needed to secure your website and its visitors.
We hope this article has cleared all doubts about why you need an SSL certificate.
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