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SSL For Dummies - Understanding What it all Means

Updated on December 3, 2009

Understanding SSL, for dummies

Unless you have been to school and received a degree dealing with websites and computers, chances are everyday you surf the internet and there are words and terms you see, and have no idea what they mean. As with anything, a lot of terms are just bigger fancier words for something extremely simple, however; most of these terms you need to know for safety and security reasons. One of these terms often seen online is SSL certificate. If you own a website and have been doing your homework, you probably know what it means, but do you understand exactly what SSL is for. Not to worry, below you will find an explanation and break down of what SSL is and what it does.

SSL - its meaning

First off SSL stands for secure socket layer. Secure socket layer technology protects your website and allows customers and potential customers to trust your website with their personal information, by encrypting important information during different online transactions. If you own a website, you may need SSL encryption services if you offer one or more of these things on your website, you have an online store and accept online transactions along with credit cards, you require logging on to your site, or you process sensitive information, such as social security numbers, addresses, or anything personal. SSL technology is expected if you want your customers to be satisfied and be more willing to purchase from your site. These SSLs provide security over different networks when using the internet.

What does it do?

An SSL certificate provides private communication channels for data transmission and encrypts it with a special code. The encryption used for the information being transferred has been compared to that of an envelope being sent through the mail. The envelope protects what's inside, and prevents the contents on the inside of the envelope being seen until it reaches the receiver or where it needs to be.

Encryption Protocols

Each SSL certificate is provided with two different keys; a private key, and a public key. The reason they are called keys is because they really do act as if they are keys. The public key is used to encrypt the file like locking a door to keep the public out, and the private key is to decipher the encryption or unlocking a door. An SSL handshake authenticates the website and the web browser, which is a really good name, a handshake represents trust and that's what a customer is giving you when they purchase an item, or send important information on your website.

An SSL is as important to the online world as a passport or social security number is important in the real world. A certificate authority is a trusted source and issues SSL certificates, however; different certificate authorities verify certain things when you apply for a certificate. Some check for more things than others, such as the ownership of the domain name, as well as verifying the business. To keep your customers coming back they need to trust the site they will be purchasing on so skimping on an SSL certificate isn't the smartest thing to do.

If you own a website and you require important information to be passed back and forth between your site and your viewers, you need to get a cheap SSL cert. Not only for the protection of your customers, but for the reliability and trustworthiness of your website. An SSL certificate is the best way to ensure that confidential information is staying confidential until it reaches where it needs to be, making you and your customer comfortable with the transaction they are making. A happy customer always comes back.

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      Techie 5 years ago

      This should be deleted. Thanks.

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      Techie 5 years ago

      This post is horseshit