SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are a small piece of digital signature used to link a dedicated organization called an SSL Vendor or a CA (Certificate Authority) to an online business via a cryptographic key pair. This bond ensures encryption of data passed from the server where the website resides and the browser of the visitor.
The SSL bears the seal of this CA, and it guarantees that eavesdropping while the connection is established will not occur. When the SSL is installed for a domain name, it enables it to use a padlock in the browser and the HTTPS secure protocol. Typically, the type of data that is often targeted by hackers is sensitive information such as credit card transactions and login credentials. In the past few years, SSL certificates have turned into a security standard for online presence and are highly sought after by website owners. In their attempts to make the internet a safer place, Google officials confirmed that any website that has an SSL certificate and is utilizing the HTTPS protocol would be ranked higher in searches.
Generally, what an SSL allows you to achieve is a private "dialog" between the client and the server.
How does this work?
Now that we have explained what an SSL certificate is, let's go over how it works so you can get a better understanding of the process:
- As mentioned above, an SSL certificate binds an SSL vendor and an online business or a domain name utilizing this certificate together. When a site is visited, the server will share the public key with the visitor's browser.
- This process creates a unique session ID of the encryption method, and both keys are cross-referenced against each other.
- The browser will then ascertain if the certificate present on the server is trustworthy and active. If that's the case, it will allow the connection by sending a "confirmation message" to the server.
- The server will then provide a digitally approved response, also known as the "SSL handshake", commencing the encrypted connection.
How can I know if a website is using an SSL certificate?
You should always check if a website is using an SSL certificate before submitting any sensitive information there. You will confirm this by looking at your browser's top-left corner where you type in the actual domain. A website utilizing an SSL will ALWAYS be accessible via HTTPS. Another distinctive feature will be the padlock located on the left side of the domain. If none of the aforementioned features are observed, there will be a "Not Secure" label, and you should consider leaving the site and looking to make a purchase or register elsewhere.
Do I need an SSL certificate for my website?
Absolutely! Any self-respecting business owner should be utilizing an SSL certificate, especially if he has an e-commerce website. Here are the benefits:
- Every piece of sensitive information dispatched through the server hosting your site, and the visitor's browser will be encrypted and out of the reach of hackers.
- It will breathe confidence in your visitors, making them want to freely browse your site.
- Google will rank your website higher as its search algorithm prioritizes websites with SSL certificates.
- Your website will have a more professional look, making other businesses and people, in general, take you more seriously.
How can I get an SSL certificate?
If you are a client of HostArmada, all your domains which you set up on your hosting plans with us and are pointed to our name servers will have an SSL installed on them by default. We utilize the cPanel's AutoSSL feature, which issues certificates from Sectigo - a renowned Certificate Authority.
Alternatively, you have the option of purchasing and installing an SSL from a different SSL vendor, transfer an SSL from your previous hosting server, and generating a new CSR. We have great articles on how you can do that.