The use of SSL in the last few years has increased drastically with organizations running to securing their sites against attacks. Furthermore, most of the internet users have encountered with SSL in one of their browsing session without actually knowing. This uncertainty raises the question, what is an SSL certificate? SSL in full stands for Secure Socket Layer. It was first developed in 1994 by Netscape communications with the aim of protecting internet users using unprotected networks. This protection is made possible by the presence of what is known as SSL certificates.
SSL certificates are tiny bits of data that digitally binds a cryptographic key to an organization’s detail. This cryptographic system uses two keys to encrypt data; one known to the public and one is only known to the recipient of the message. Once it is installed on a server, it activates the padlock and the website protocol which in turn creates a secure connection between the user browser and the website server.
In the present day internet world, SSL certificates are used for various web processes mostly as a security measure. The most common of uses is securing credit card transactions in banks and other financial institutions’ system, securing data transfers, login credentials and browsing. The most recent use has been the securing of social media browsing due to the significant increase in social media usage.
The applications of SSL over the days have grown over the years which have led to the emergence of various types of certificates. These include EV SSL (Extended Validation), OV SSL (Organizational Validation) and DV (Domain Validation) SSL certificates. They vary in their functions as follows:
- Extended validation: the certificate authority (CA) checks the right of the user to access a specified domain and even further conducts a strict vetting process to verify organization legal, operational and physical existence. It is the most secure certificate yet the most expensive.
- Organizational Validation: In this certificate, the CA checks the rights of the user to access the website and further carries out authentication by confirming organization registration and some other documents. It provides more authentication than domain validation certificates.
- Domain validation– In this case, the CA cross checks the user’s rights to access the domains but doesn’t vet the organization behind the website.
How SSL certificates work?
Having the above information in mind, one would ask themselves how SSL works. It is quite simple. When a user tries to access a website using SSL certificates, first the browser requests the site for identification. The site responds by sending a copy of the SSL certificate used to encrypt it. Once the browser confirms that the certificate is from a trusted source, it sends a message to the web server which digitally acknowledges and starts an SSL protected browsing session for the user. The user will then notice that the URL used starts with HTTPS, unlike the initial HTTP.
Benefits of Having an SSL to a website:
There are many advantages of having SSL on a website as compared to the normal browsing or other forms of internet security. First, as seen earlier, it secures one’s sessions on the web. Other benefits include search engine optimization, reduction of cart abandonment rate and expansion of one’s business, and also brand value and reliable transmission which gives one a competitive advantage and many more other benefits. Below are ways in which SSL certificates are of helps both the website holder as well as the user.
The SSL certificates help both the user and the organization of the site regarding security. To the organization, it secures the website and avoids leaking of the organization’s sensitive information to unwanted parties. It then assures the visitor’s on their websites that their browsing sessions are secure since the SSL presence is indicated by a padlock sign or HTTPS in the URL. This attracts more people to the organization’s website. To the user, it protects their login information and passwords making it their personal secret. It further secures their browsing sessions and any other activity they do on that SSL protected website.
2. Search Engine Optimization
It is proven that the presence of SSL certificates in a site increases its Search engine results. SEO is the process to improve rankings of a website or an article. According to an article on Webmaster Central blog updated by Google, they confirm to put much priority on web security and website owners should install SSL to get a good ranking. This advantage is one of the significant benefits in which not many sites and blog owners are aware of.
3. SSL lessens the cart abandonment rate
According to research done by PayPal, 80% of its users use credit cards to pay for their purchases. The option of offering payment through credit card relies on SSL security. For one to carry out E-commerce, they need to have SSL certificates to secure their transaction in the process expanding their businesses. Customers shopping on these sites also trust SSL secured sites more to carry out purchases as compared to the others.
4. SSL increases brand value and efficiency
With SSL in place, you are protected against cyber assaults and other forms of cyber-crimes hence giving your website users a safe browsing and shopping environment. By providing a safe environment, you will be building your brand since most users will consider your brand safe and legit. Also by having a safe environment, you will have a reliable website that cannot be affected by external hitches.
These are just a few of the significant benefits that come with the installation of SSL on a website. However, not many internet users, especially who just know the basics of computer, recognizes and appreciate the presence SSL in their browsing sessions. It is, therefore, advisable to any website holder to purchase and install SSL certificates in their browser not only to secure their contents but also to ensure the securing of their client’s details and browsing sessions.