What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is an automated certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and enables an encrypted connection. An ssl full form is “Secure Sockets Layer,” it is a security protocol that generates an encrypted link within a web server and a web browser.

Businesses should add SSL certificates to their website to secure online transactions and secure customer information privacy.

To sum up, SSL secures Internet connections and prevents criminals from viewing or modifying information exchanged between two systems. When you see a tiny padlock next to the URL in the address bar, it means SSL is protecting the website you are visiting.

Since its arrival 25 years ago, there have been several versions of SSL, all of which have had security issues at some point. A brand new renamed version (TLS or Transport Layer Security) followed and is still used today. However, the initials SSL have remained, so its old name usually refers to the new version of the protocol.

How do SSL certificates work?

SSL ensures that data transferred between users and websites or between two systems is impossible to decrypt. It uses encryption algorithms to scramble data while in transit, preventing cybercriminals from reading it while it is being sent. This information includes potentially sensitive information such as addresses, names, credit card numbers, or other financial information.

Here’s how the process goes:

  • A server tries to connect to a website (e.g., a web server) secured by SSL.
  • The browser or server asks the webserver to identify itself.
  • The web server transmits a copy of its SSL certificate to the browser or server.
  • The browser or server verifies that it can trust the SSL certificate. If so, it reports it to the webserver.
  • The web server then returns an electronically signed agreement to begin an encrypted SSL session.
  • Encrypted data is distributed among the server and the webserver.
  • This procedure is sometimes referred to as an “SSL handshake” or “SSL negotiation.”

When an SSL certificate secures a website, the acronym HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) appears in the URL. Only HTTP letters (without the S for “Secure”) are displayed without an SSL certificate. A padlock icon will be viewable in the address bar. These signs are there to let you know that you can trust the website you are visiting.

Suppose a website asks users to register, enter personal information like credit card numbers, or request to see confidential information like health insurance or financial information. In that case, it is essential to ensure the confidentiality of this data. SSL certificates provide the privacy of online interactions and the website’s authenticity so that users can share their private information with confidence.

For businesses, be aware that an SSL certificate is required to obtain an HTTPS web address. HTTPS is the secure form of an HTTP address; it means that HTTPS websites have SSL-protected traffic. Most browsers report HTTP sites (those that do not have an SSL certificate) as “insecure.” This is a straightforward way of signaling to users that the site may be unsafe, and it prompts businesses to migrate to an HTTPS address.

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An SSL certificate secures the following information:

  • identifiers;
  • credit card transactions or banking information;
  • personally identifiable information
  • legal documents and contracts;
  • medical records; and
  • confidential information.

Types of SSL certificates

There are distinct types of SSL certificates with varying levels of validation. Here are the top four:

Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)

It is the highest and most expensive SSL certificate. It is mainly used for large websites that collect data and involve online payments. Once installed, this SSL certificate displays the padlock, HTTPS address, company name, and country in the browser’s address bar. Displaying information about the site owner in the address bar helps distinguish them from fraudulent sites. To obtain an EV SSL certificate, the website owner must go through a standard identity verification procedure to confirm that they are legally entitled to own the exclusive rights to that domain.

Organization-validated certificates (OV SSL)

This version of the SSL certificate guarantees a level similar to that of the EV SSL certificate since to acquire one, the site owner must go through a vital validation procedure.  OV SSL Certificates are just below EV SSL Certificates when it comes to price, and their primary purpose is to encrypt users’ confidential information during transactions. Commercial and public-facing sites should install an OV SSL certificate to ensure all shared customer information confidentiality.

Domain validated certificates (DV SSL)

The validation process to get this SSL certificate is minimal, so domain validated SSL certificates provide low security and minimal encryption. They are primarily used for blogs and international sites that do not involve data collection or online payments. This type of SSL certificate is one of the cheapest and is very quick to obtain. The validation process only requires the website owner to prove that they own the domain by responding to an email or phone call.

Generic SSL certificates

Generic SSL certificates allow you to secure a base domain and unlimited subdomains with a single certificate. If you have multiple subdomains, purchasing a generic SSL certificate is much cheaper

than buying individual SSL certificates for each of them. Generic SSL certificates have an asterisk * in the common name representing all valid subdomains with the same base domain.

To conclude ssl certificate full form is Secure Sockets Layer.

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