SSL certificate explained
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity.
Secure Sockets Layer is an information file that generates an encrypted connection browser-server cryptographically. Once they connect, the SSL certificate is validated. That is the way to achieve protected communication between them. So, as a result, only the user and the website could access the user’s info, such as email address, payment details, etc.
Usually, users are able to recognize visually if a particular website has an SSL certificate. Therefore, there should be an additional “S” appearing after “HTTP.”
How does it work?
A user is visiting your website and connecting to it. In case you have installed an SSL certificate, your server will send it to the user’s device. Then the user’s browser will use the certificate’s public key and determine if it is authentic and produce a symmetric session key. The server, with its private key, can decrypt that symmetric session key. As a result, both parties trust each other. They can use the session key for any additional encryption and decryption. This process is also known as SSL Handshake.
Why is it important?
- Verifies identity. Websites used for phishing are the way hackers could take advantage of your visitor. With an SSL certificate, the identity of your website is verified. To issue such type of certificate, you go through an official process and validate your identity. Now, your visitors can be sure that they are on a legit website.
- Protects data. With the implemented encryption, the data transfer with the website is secure. If an attacker access the communication between the user and the server, he won’t be able to understand it.
- Protects money transfers. If you manage a business using sensitive data, such as IDs, credit card numbers, etc., the protection of your customers is a must. Hackers, taking your customers’ information can completely damage your company’s trustability and income. Therefore, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) counts it necessary for corporations to suggest powerful mechanisms for encrypting their information.
- Reliability. Clients are more likely to trust your website if they know that they are protected. It makes a difference by increasing your traffic, success, and of course, sales.
- Search engine ranking. The security interest is massive. So having or not an SSL certificate affects your visibility in the results.
SSL certificate types
There are several types of SSL certificates out there. However, we can classify them into three main categories:
- DV (Domain validation). This is the most commonly used one. It serves to validate the owner of the domain. It checks the email applied for the registration of the domain. The CA is validating it, and the DV SSL certificate is ready.
- OV (Organization validation). In this case, the aim is to validate the organization. The CA is going to check if the organization exists for real. That usually happens by considering the name, address, phone number, and so on.
- EV (Extended validation). This SSL certificate is on the highest level. Same as OV, the CA will examine the information about the company. It could ask for even more information and give the most reliable possible validation.