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What is an SSL Certificate? All you want to know about it.
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, a technology that encrypts the data over the transmission path, developed by Netscape. SSL creates a secured and encrypted path between two points, between the user browser and the organization’s web server.
This encryption allows the smooth transmission of the private data without worrying about the overlapping, leaking, and forgery.
We all want this security to be enabled for the path between you and your customer so that customers will trust you, buy more from you and you will get the much-needed traffic you have always wanted.
Now how to get this security fixed on your browser? For this to happen, you will have to get an SSL certificate that identifies you as a genuine author and install it on the server. You will get to know the padlock icon in the web browser for the indication of SSL certification. Or it can be pointed out by a green address bar.
Once you are done with the installation of an SSL certificate, you can switch over from HTTP to HTTPS. You can enter the most secret data like information about credit cards if the site is secured with an SSL certificate. This means your information will be shared and seen by the organization that owns the site.
Hundreds and thousands of online businesses use SSL certificates so that users can place trust in them and thus they can do their business without worrying about privacy. Certificate Authorities are the ones who provide SSL certificates.
How does an SSL Certificate work?
Public key cryptography is used by the SSL certificate. It is a kind of cryptography that generates two keys over the data transmission channel. One is called the private key and the other is called the public key.
The public key is for your server and known to the public on that server. This public key is used to encrypt the message on the server. If X is sending a message to Y then X will encrypt it with Y’s public key.
This message can be decrypted by Y’s private key only because Y is the one who is holding the key to unlock the message. Now if anyone tries to intercept the message, he will get the cryptographic message which cannot be read or broken.
Am I going to need an SSL Certificate?
Everything is online today. And if you are in the online business, you would not tolerate that users are going away without buying from you online. Have you ever thought why users stay away from buying online? If the user finds out that the site is not secured with the SSL certificate then he will neither buy from you nor visit your site in the future.
This will heavily impact the online business. But why users are asking for such security. It is because of the payment gateway on the website which asks for the credit card information that is highly confidential and no one can trust the unsecured payment gateway on which they share such private information.
SSL certificate and security would stop people from leaving your site and this means more business and money for you.
Certificate Authority. All you want to know about it.
Digital certificates are issued to organizations by a Certificate Authority. Certificate Authority validates them first on the required criteria set by them before issuing the certificate to the needy.
Certificate Authority keeps the detailed records of the issued certificates, criteria on which the certificate is issued, etc. The customers who purchase this certificate are audited regularly to check whether they are following the norms and conditions or not.
For the audition, a Certification Practice Statement is provided by the Certificate Authority which defines the process to be used for verification.
Many Certificate Authorities charge for the certification services. Governments, Individuals, Organizations may have their own CAs depending upon the products, prices, SSL certificate features, and services.
Can I buy a free SSL Certificate?
The answer is yes, you can get the SSL certificate for free. But you would not expect the same services and security as a paid certificate would provide you. Initially one can go for the free SSL certificate.
Many free Certificate Authorities will offer you a free SSL certificate. But there are some disadvantages to this.
- The free certificate is not trusted in all the web browsers. When someone visits your site, the web browser will automatically display the warning message that this SSL certificate is not trusted. This will result in users leaving your site and will not come back ever again.
Visitors can manually import the certificate before they access your site but again it is time consuming and visitors will simply not like it.
Most of the visitors will not recognize your free SSL certificate provider because your site is not secured and verified by the third party so they will have less trust in you. Free SSL certificate cannot be used for e-commerce and financial business.
Certificates and Web Security.
The basic and common use of a Security certificate is for HTTPS-based web sites. When a web browser validates the authenticity of the user with a security certificate, the user can feel secure too that his transaction over the transmission channel is safe.
For getting the SSL certificate, the user applies to the certificate authority, and in return CAs check and validate the user based upon some criteria set by them and provide them the certificate after the examination is over.
For example, when a user joins a web site, and his web browser does not display a warning message about web security then he can be sure to continue with the current web site.
A certificate authority can issue three types of certificates. They are Organization Validation, Extended Validation, and Domain validation.
Pros and Cons of SSL Certificate.
- Encryption: As said earlier sending the sensitive information over the transmission path requires much-needed security so that it cannot be leaked or shared. Users can be assured of secrecy by the SSL certificate.
- Authentication: SSL certificate also provides authentication. It means the path you are sending the information on is the right one and not the fake one. This is important as customers use several computers and servers to send the information and any one of these computers can be used to get the necessary information sent over it by cheating the customer. This is very dangerous for the customers as well as business owners.
- Business Trust: Users can make sure about the security just by seeing the green address bar or the padlock icon on the browser. This is essential for the e-commerce business to gain customer’s trust.
- Protection from the Phishing: Phishing is an email sent to users by the hackers. These hackers act as intermediaries and steal some crucial information from the path between you and the server. Emails sent by them carry a link that redirects you to their website and thus separating you from your server and thus making you fall into his trap. They are doing so because as far as you are on the SSL certificate installed server they are not able to cheat you by anyhow.
- Cost: The main disadvantage of the SSL certificate is Cost. As we know applying for the certificate, validating the criteria and frequent auditing require handsome amounts. Also some well-known certificate providers charge you higher for their services.
- Performance: All the information we send is encrypted by the server so it can take more server resources resulting in the slow performance of the website. Slower performance is noticeable to the website with high traffic only.