SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
Why is it needed?
This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. SSL is an industry standard and is used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers.
Google introduced HTTPS as a lightweight search signal in an attempt to raise awareness of online security issues and encourage more webmasters to get SSL certificates for their websites. The idea was to make the web a safer place by ensuring secure server connections and maximum privacy for online users. With this goal still in focus, Google decided to further improve online safety by allowing search engines to crawl HTTPS pages by default.
How it works?
To be able to create an SSL connection a web server requires an SSL Certificate. When you choose to activate SSL on your web server you will be prompted to complete a number of questions about the identity of your website and your company. Your web server then creates two cryptographic keys — a Private Key and a Public Key.
The Public Key does not need to be secret and is placed into a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) — a data file also containing your details. You should then submit the CSR. During the SSL Certificate application process, the Certification Authority will validate your details and issue an SSL Certificate containing your details and allowing you to use SSL. Your web server will match your issued SSL Certificate to your Private Key. Your web server will then be able to establish an encrypted link between the website and your customer’s web browser.
Is it noticable by your visitors?
The complexities of the SSL protocol remain invisible to your customers. Instead their browsers provide them with a key indicator to let them know they are currently protected by an SSL encrypted session — the lock icon in browser address bar, clicking on the lock icon displays your SSL Certificate and the details about it. All SSL Certificates are issued to either companies or legally accountable individuals.
And your website URL will begin with “https” instead of http. Letter “S” stands for security.
What information does it contain?
Typically an SSL Certificate will contain:
- your domain name
- your company name
- your address
- your city
- your state
- and your country.
It will also contain the expiration date of the Certificate and details of the Certification Authority responsible for the issuance of the Certificate. When a browser connects to a secure site it will retrieve the site’s SSL Certificate and check that it has not expired, it has been issued by a Certification Authority the browser trusts, and that it is being used by the website for which it has been issued. If it fails on any one of these checks the browser will display a warning to the end user letting them know that the site is not secured by SSL.