What and What for Are SSL Certificates?

When browsing the web, you want to be sure the sites you are going to are legitimate. If you’re hosting a website, you need to be able to offer this assurance to your visitors. SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer Certificate allow you this protection whether you are the visitor or the host of a website.

What Are SSLs and How Do They Work?

A SSL is an important line of protection against data hacks. They work by using public key cryptography. This means that each piece of data is encrypted in two ways at the same time. Each party had both a public and a private key, so only the private key can unlock the public data sent to one of the parties. If the data is intercepted it is useless without the key to decrypt it. Secure Sockets Layer use tiny bits of to create what is basically a private conversation between two parties. There are different types of SSL’s depending on a domain’s needs.

Single, used for single domains, Wildcard, for a single domain that has unlimited sub-domains, and Multi-domain which secures multiple domains. Depending on what is needed to be secure there are also different levels of validation as well. The most basic form, Domain Validation, covers basic encryption and only takes a few minutes or hours to get. Organization Validation is more detailed offering encryption and authenticates the owner of the domain with more personal details such as their address. The one with the most coverage, Extended Validation, can take weeks to receive but provides the most protection. With Extended Validation, a far more thorough verification is done on the owner including both the legal and physical existence confirmation.

How Can I Get a SSL and How Do I Know a Website Has One?

To get a SSL you need to go through a Certificate Authority. Web browsers and operating systems keep an updated list of CA’s on file for you to use. Secure Sockets Layer Certificates are useful not just for the protection they provide you and your visitors. SSL’s also have the added benefits of increasing Google rankings of your domains as well as building your visitors trust and improving conversion rates. When you visit a website to feel confident that the data you send is secure if you see they have a SSL Certificate. There are a few clues to verify this. First, you should see a padlock to the left side of the website address. Secondly, the prefix at the address will be https instead of http. Thirdly, a trust seal will appear on the website. Lastly (and only for the Extended Validation level) the address bar will be green.

Secure Sockets Layer Certificates are useful in all aspects of internet use. If you want to have a secure domain, they are a necessity for protection for yourself and your visitors. When you are visiting sites, make sure they have a valid SSL to assure your personal data is defended.