How Does SSL Work?

Surely, you have heard a great deal about SSL certificates. You have heard how they protect sensitive information and how having one of these certificates contributes to helping with a business’s reputation. What you may not know, however, is how SSL works. Few people, unless they possess web development knowledge, know the ins and outs of this technology. SSL certificates are relatively simple in how they work, and each certificate has different functions.

What Exactly is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate, or a Secure Socket Layer certificate, is a technology that ensures that personal information is protected. When these certificates are installed, web communications must follow a specific protocol. This protocol is designed to keep communications between computers private and secure. This ensures that a hacker cannot interfere with communications in any way.

How Does an SSL Certificate Work?

In order to best illustrate how an SSL certificate works, let’s compare the communication between computers to what takes place over the phone lines. When people are talking over the phone, their lines are vulnerable to being tapped by unscrupulous individuals who want nothing more to do than to interfere with people’s personal lives. Some may go as far as to rerouting calls to different locations, so people will give personal information to the wrong parties. Similar things happen with communication over the computer. While lines cannot be tapped per say, hackers can spy on communication for exploitation purposes, and they can reroute these communications to wherever they wish. Without an SSL certificate in place, hackers can monitor your Internet communications. They can intercept chat messages, read private emails and get hold of financial information, just to name a few of the many things that hackers will do if such a certificate is not in place. When an SSL certificate is in place, communications are one hundred percent secure. A hacker will not be able to tap in and engage in exploitation.

When a company opts to purchase an SSL certificate, they must fill out paperwork proving they are who they say that they are. While the paperwork is extensive, this process prevents fraud. Basically, an individual cannot purchase an SSL certificate on the pretense that they belong to a specific company. Depending on the type of certificate purchased, webmasters will either have to install it on their websites or they can have access to a shared certificate. Whichever option is chosen, the process for setting up the certificate is simple and painless.

Types of Certificates

There are a few different types of SSL certificates. The three most common SSL certificates are standard, EV and SGC. Each of these varies in the level of security that they provide. SSL certificates that provide a higher level of security will bear a hefty price tag. Some certificates can cost as much as $400 per year, though; discounts are usually given when multiple years are purchased.

Before you purchase your SSL certificate, you need to decide how much security you actually need. For instance, if you are just running a chat site, you will do fine with a standard certificate. If your site will be an ecommerce site, then you want to purchase a SSL certificate that offers the highest level of security possible. Whether choosing high-security EV SSL certificates or the basic shared protection, there is an SSL certificate for every website’s need and budget.

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