What is SSL?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. SSL is a standard protocol used in websites to protect online transactions with the customers. The encrypted connection between the server and the browsers remains in an unreadable format to make it private and confidential.
The Secure Socket Layer or the Transport Layer Security (TLS) which is commonly called SSL is the security protocol adorned over the eCommerce websites to nurture complete security layering to protect transactions dealt in and out through the website. The SSL equips the website to provide a secure channel for the transactions between the web server and web browser. SSL protocol typically creates secure pathway between two systems operating over the Internet or an internal network.
When a website is laden with SSL protocol, there is a mild influence on the end user while establishing a secure connection. The users can understand that the website is SSL protected by displaying a padlock with a basic SSL certificate and a green address bar when in case of Extended Validation SSL Certificate.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL Certificates are compact data files that combines cryptographic key digitally with the organization's details. This activates the HTTPS protocol and the padlock in the address bar when connection is created from the web browser to the web server and vice versa. Any eCommerce website that deals with customer credentials like login details, credit card and other highly sensitive financial transactions require an SSL certificate to secure the website as it embraces customer trust and improves conversions rate.
SSL Certificates bundles up the following:
- A domain name
- A server name or hostname
- Identity of the entity (name and location of the company)it gets installed on the web server.
The HTTPS connection is established to probe a secure connection between the web server and the web browser.
How Does the SSL Certificate Create a Secure Connection?
When a website is secured with SSL and the browser attempts accessing the secured website, a process called the SSL Handshake takes place spontaneously at the background which generates an SSL connection between the web server and the web browser.The SSL connection is established through three primary keys
- Public Key
- Private Key
- Session Key
The encryption done by a private key can be decrypted only by its corresponding private key and vice versa.
A resonating process is involved while encrypting and decrypting the public and private keys and hence it is processed during SSL handshake generating a symmetric session key. The data transmitted is encrypted by the session key succeeding the secure connection.
Server Browser Communication
- Browser visits the SSL-secured website by connecting to the web server. Browser demands the server to identify itself.
- On demand, the server sends a copy of the SSL certificate along with the relevant public key.
- Browser then validates the certificate root against a list of trusted Certificate Authorities to check if the certificate is valid and if it is unexpired and that if the existing name is genuine for the website that it is relating to. If the browser ensures trust over the SSL certificate, it generates, encode and returns back a symmetric session key using the public key of the server.
- Server sends back a response that is encrypted by the session key to further decrypt the symmetric session key with its private key to initiate the encrypted session.
- The transmitted data is then encrypted by the server and browser with the session key.
Why Do I Need SSL?
eCommerce is revolutionizing business trends giving in a trusted space for customers to deal with sensitive transactions and purchases. Visitors hunt for visual high-sign that proves the website is secured and genuine. Websites with SSL holds a lock icon or a green bar to help visitors understand the authenticity and how well the transactions dealt are protected.
How do I Own a Certificate?
As a security administrator, if you are looking out to own an SSL certificate, create your own check-list by analyzing the requirement. Understand the demand,
- Check if the certificate would be implemented for public purpose or internal use
- Know the users' methodology
- Know what is the operating system used
- Understand what is the server software involved
- Understand the security policy priorities
Types of SSL Certificate
There are 3 types of SSL Certificates catering users based on the level of Trust
Domain Validated certificates (DV) - Domain Validated SSL Certificate does not deal with strenuous validation from the CAs. The certificate does not provide any organizational identity. It is also considered the cheapest type of SSL certificate to get, but poses a high risk on a public website.
Organization Validated certificates (OV) - Organizational certificates builds customer trust over the website. The existence and identity of the organizations are strictly validated for authentication by the Certificate Authorities.
Extended Validation certificates (EV) - Extended Validation Certificates offers more trust and security to the website users. It enhances online transactions and improves customer confidence. Banking websites and other websites that deals with highly sensitive transactions requires an EV SSL Certificate to boost online transactions and enhance customer confidence.