Secure Socket Layer, commonly known as SSL, is a standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a client, typically a web browser. This technology ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral, thereby safeguarding against eavesdropping, tampering, and message forgery.

SSL is an essential part of securing your website, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information like credit cards. It provides privacy, critical security and data integrity for both your websites and your users’ personal information. SSL is the backbone of our secure Internet and it protects your sensitive information as it travels across the world’s computer networks.

History of SSL

The Secure Socket Layer protocol was developed by Netscape Communications to secure communication over the internet. The first version of SSL was never publicly released due to serious security flaws. SSL version 2.0 was the first publicly released version in February 1995, but it too had significant security weaknesses.

SSL version 3.0, released in 1996, was a complete redesign of the protocol and is the basis for the Transport Layer Security (TLS), the successor to SSL. Despite the existence of TLS, the term SSL is still commonly used to refer to the security technology.

Transition to Transport Layer Security (TLS)

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is an updated version of SSL. It works in much the same way as the SSL, using encryption to protect the transfer of data and information. The two terms are often used interchangeably in the industry although SSL is still widely used.

TLS is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards track protocol and is based on the earlier SSL specifications. Despite the similar names, SSL and TLS are not interoperable. However, because TLS is backward-compatible with SSL 3.0, software written for SSL 3.0 can be used with little or no changes.

How SSL Works

SSL operates by using a cryptographic system that uses two keys to encrypt data − a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message. Both of these keys can be used to encrypt a message; so the message recipient needs to use the same key to decrypt the message that the sender used to encrypt it.

When a browser attempts to access a website that is secured by SSL, the browser and the web server establish an SSL connection using a process called an “SSL Handshake”. This process happens in the background without interrupting the user’s browsing experience.

SSL Handshake

The SSL handshake is an automated process by which the client and server establish a network connection. The handshake involves the generation of shared secrets to establish a uniquely secure connection between the client and the server.

During the SSL handshake, the server sends a copy of its SSL certificate to the client. The client checks the certificate against a list of trusted certificates. If the check is successful, the client sends a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an SSL encrypted session.

Importance of SSL

SSL is important for protecting your website, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information. It provides privacy, critical security and data integrity for both your websites and your users’ personal information.

SSL is the backbone of our secure Internet and it protects your sensitive information as it travels across the world’s computer networks. SSL is essential for protecting your website, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information like credit cards.

SSL and SEO

Google has confirmed that HTTPS, which requires an SSL certificate, is a ranking factor. This means that if your website is not secured by an SSL certificate, it could be getting outranked by similar sites that are.

Furthermore, browsers like Google Chrome display a warning to users when they visit a site that is not secured by SSL. This can deter users from visiting your site, leading to lower traffic and conversions.

Types of SSL Certificates

There are several types of SSL certificates available, each offering different levels of security and validation. The type of SSL certificate you need will depend on the level of security your website needs, the size of your business, and how much you are willing to spend.

The three main types of SSL certificates are Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificates, Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificates, and Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates.

Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificates

Domain Validation SSL Certificates are the most basic type of SSL certificate. They offer a low level of security and are usually the cheapest option. DV SSL certificates are typically used for blogs, personal websites, and small business websites that do not handle sensitive information.

With a DV SSL certificate, the Certificate Authority (CA) checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name. No company identity information is vetted and no information is displayed other than encryption information within the Secure Site Seal.

Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificates

Organization Validation SSL Certificates provide a medium level of security and are a good option for small to medium-sized businesses. OV SSL certificates validate the domain ownership and the existence of the organization, making them more trustworthy than DV SSL certificates.

With an OV SSL certificate, the Certificate Authority (CA) checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name plus it conducts some vetting of the organization. Additional vetted company information is displayed to customers when clicking on the Secure Site Seal, giving enhanced visibility and increased trust.

Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates

Extended Validation SSL Certificates provide the highest level of security and are the most expensive type of SSL certificate. EV SSL certificates are typically used by large businesses and organizations that handle sensitive information.

With an EV SSL certificate, the Certificate Authority (CA) checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name plus it conducts a thorough vetting of the organization. EV SSL Certificates are considered the most trusted option and provide the highest level of security.

Conclusion

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a crucial technology for securing internet connections, and its use is considered standard practice for all websites, regardless of the nature of their content. By providing an encrypted link between the web server and the client, SSL ensures the privacy and integrity of data transmitted over the internet.

Understanding the different types of SSL certificates and how they work can help you make an informed decision about the right level of security for your website. Whether you’re running a personal blog or a large e-commerce site, SSL is an essential part of securing your site and protecting your users’ information.

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