21 May A Beginner’s Guide to SSL Certificate
Do I need an SSL certificate?
It is a common question that comes to every website owner’s mind. But, does every website owner require an SSL certificate?
All began in July 2018, when Google Chrome started labeling non-SSL websites as not secure. Around 43-62% of all internet traffic goes through Google Chrome and this step of labeling the websites was considered as a needed push for web security.
Google thinks that having an SSL certificate or HTTPS should be a default for the websites and thus it also removed the security tag from the SSL websites.
HTTPS is a web address that indicates a website to be secure for browsing. And, the websites that don’t have HTTPS may encounter issues like eavesdropping by hackers who can intercept the communication between the website and its user. Thus, the step to label non-SSL websites as not secure makes sense.
We hope that you have got a brief idea of the SSL certificate. Now let’s dig a little deeper into it and throw light on different aspects of having an SSL certificate.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, which is a technology that focuses on enhancing the security of the website by encrypting the connection between the server and the user’s browser.
We can say that it is a protocol that encrypts internet traffic and verifies server identity. On the other hand, an SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates a website to be secure and enables it to move from HTTP to HTTPS.
Technically, an SSL certificate is a data file that is hosted in the website’s origin server and contains a public key and identity of the website along with some critical information.
So, the devices that communicate with the origin server will refer to the SSL certificate to obtain the public key and verify the server’s identity. Also, the private key is always kept secure.
What Are The Contents of The SSL Certificate?
The SSL certificate includes the following components:
- The domain name of the website for which the certificate was issued
- Name of the person, device, or organization the certificate was issued to
- Name of the certificate authority that issued it
- Digital signature of the issuing authority
- Associated subdomains
- Date when the certificate was issued
- The expiration date of the SSL certificate
- The public key
Many people don’t know what public and private keys are in the SSL certificate. These are long strings of characters that are used to encrypt or decrypt the data.
The important thing to note here is that any data encrypted by the public key can only be decrypted with the help of a private key, and vice versa.
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How do SSL Certificates Work?
SSL certificate works as a windshield when super confidential information is being transferred. As discussed above, these are small data files and these files bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details digitally.
The moment it is installed on the web browser it activates the padlock along with HTTPS protocol that allows a secure connection between the server and the user’s web browser.
Now this cryptographic connection harnesses the power of the public and private key. The public key is available in the public domain and is known to your server and is used for encryption.
Supposedly, A sends a message to B after locking it with the public key, the only way it can be decrypted is by B’s private key.
So, B has the private key and can only unlock the message sent by A. If a hacker intervenes in between the connection and intercepts the message before B unlocks it, the hacker will only get a cryptographic code. This cryptographic code acts like a windshield that the hacker cannot break.
This particular communication that we tried to explain with the above example happens between the user and the website, where the cryptographic keys are bound to the website.
What is The Purpose of an SSL Certificate?
SSL certificate works on three key elements that include: Encryption, Authentication, and HTTPS. All these elements make any website credible and trustworthy from a user’s perspective.
Until July 2018, people couldn’t make out the difference between HTTP and HTTPS websites.But now the browsers have started tagging the websites as non-secure that has made those websites more noticeable. Thus, they have to move from HTTP to HTTPS, if they want to gain the public’s trust.
We can say that the main objective of obtaining an SSL certificate is to protect transactions and customers’ private information.
Apart from keeping the data secured, there are other reasons a website owner must get an SSL certificate. They include verifying the ownership of the website, gaining user trust, and preventing hackers from interfering in the communication and creating fake versions of the website.
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Which Websites Specifically Need an SSL Certificate?
Now that you know how SSL certificates work, let’s see whether you need one or not. SSL certificate helps protect your data, affirms your identity, and improves customer trust; every website owner must invest in getting one.
Well, the important thing to note is that the key element is the security that comes with the SSL certificate. So, any website that deals in sensitive information such as credit card information, usernames, or passwords need an SSL certificate. It not only secures the data but also improves trust.
You must consider the scenario when a third party is getting hold of your data. You know the intention is never good.
Antivirus software and firewalls are not sufficient at times where cybercriminals bombard you with all types of viruses and malware.
What is The Benefit of an SSL Certificate?
SSL encryption offers the following benefits:
- SSL offers security multiple checkpoints by ensuring security right from the start to the finish. This makes it best for people who value anonymity or identity.
- It protects the website from various attacks, reduces the risk of cybercrimes and hacking, eavesdropping, and man-in-the-middle attacks.
- SSL certificate offers complete monitoring of your website that decreases the likelihood of your website being easily intercepted.
- It provides strong encryption to protect sensitive information from phishing scams.
- SSL builds trust and credibility in the eyes of the user because SSL is a sign that their information is not being shared with any other party.
- SSL certificates can make for a wise marketing strategy as well because the presence of an SSL certificate increases the possibility of a higher ranking.
- It provides a safe shopping experience for users of websites that accept payments online. Also, it authenticates your business, which improves the reputation of your brand.
- SSL certificate validates the business from Trusted Certificate Authority (CA) and Displays Green Address Bar along with Organization Name. All this will have a positive impact on the revenue and will increase the conversion.
Now that you know how an SSL certificate can save you from all the mess resulting from security breaches and compromise on the security of the customer data, let’s see how you can get one.
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How do I get an SSL Certificate?
You need to approach a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) because they are the ones who issues SSL certificates. If you look closely, the browsers, mobile devices, and operating systems have trusted CA root certificates.
These root certificates are mandatory on the end user’s machine and in the absence of these certificates, the browser will present untrusted error messages to the end-user.
In case you have an E-commerce website, such error messages will impact negatively, and people will show a lack of confidence in the website.
There are many trusted organizations that are considered as Certificate Authority (CA) and relied on by website owners to issue SSL certificates.
If you are looking forward to obtaining an SSL certificate for your website, consider checking a CA. They will digitally sign the certificate with their own private key. Also, they will handle the activation so that you can load your website securely.
Meanwhile, if you are concerned about your cyber security needs and looking for security testing services, consider checking Secure Triad.
We offer various penetration testing services to safeguard your applications, network, and entire IT infrastructure against possible cyber threats.
We hope you found the blog informative. For more such updates stay tuned with us!