What Is SSL?

What Is SSL?

SSL has become the standard when it comes to the exchange of sensitive information over the internet. The need for this type of security has increased over the years, as more people turn to the internet for shopping, banking, and for other purposes that require a secure connection. Learn more about SSL and find out if you need to use it on your website.


Cryptographic Protocol

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a cryptographic protocol used for secure communications between computers. It was first created by Netscape and released for public use in 1995. Since the release of SSL, it has been constantly updated and revised and has become the international standard for secure communications.

SSL is most often used by websites that handle the transfer of secure information between the server hosting the website and an internet user. This can be useful for protecting information sent while completing an online transaction, logging into a service, performing online banking, and other uses where sensitive information is passed between computers or servers.


How Do You Know if a Website Uses SSL?

The majority of websites that require a sign in use SSL. This includes email applications, ecommerce websites, and other services. If a website that you visit uses SSL, the URL of the website will begin with “HTTPS”, instead of “HTTP”. Depending on the browser that you are using, you may also see a small icon of a lock to the left of the URL.


How Does SSL Work?

When you visit a website that uses SSL to create a secure connection, your web browser will automatically ask the server hosting the website for a digital certificate of authority (CA). Your browser then checks the CA and ensure it is authentic. If the CA is not authentic or there is some other error verifying the integrity of the CA, then your web browser will inform you of the problem, so you can decide whether or not you want to proceed.

After verifying the CA, your web browser will then encrypt information that is sent from your computer to the website. This occurs before the information leaves your computer, so that the information is unreadable while being transferred to the website. Once the website receives the information, it is decrypted using a secret key. When sending information back to your computer, it is encrypted again and then it is decrypted by your browser.

SSL does not provide a complete guarantee that your information will remain secure, but it does offer a level of protection that is much needed in this modern world of constant online transactions and useful online services.


Do You Need to Use SSL on Your Website?

The decision to use SSL on your website is up to you; though, if you deal with online transactions or require your visitors to send sensitive information to your website, then SSL is needed for website security. It shows your users that you care about their security and wish to protect their interests. Most web hosting plans offer SSL certificates, either included in your web hosting package or purchased separately.

If website security is a concern for you, then you should probably add an SSL certificate to your website.