Whether you are an individual or a company, you should approach online security and ssl certificates in the same way that you would approach physical security for your home or business. Not only does it make you feel safer but it also protects people who visit your home, place of business, or web site. It is important to understand the potential risks and then make sure you are fully protected against them. In the fast-paced world of technology, it is not always easy to stay abreast of the latest advancements.
For this reason it is wise to partner with a reputable Internet security company. This guide will de-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you require to make the best decision when considering your online security options. For a glossary of terms, please see “Tech Talk Made Simple” at the end of this document.
An SSL Certificate is a digital computer file (or small piece of code) that has two specific functions:
In the same way that you lock and unlock doors and other things using a key, encryption makes use of keys to lock and unlock your information. Unless you have the right key required, you will not be able to “open” the information.
The Process: Every SSL Certificate is issued for a specific server and web site domain (web site address) for a CA-verified entity. When a person uses their browser to navigate to the address of a web site with an SSL Certificate, an SSL handshake (greeting) occurs between the browser and server. Information is requested from the server—which is then made visible to the person in their browser. You will notice changes in your browser (for more details, please see “How Do I Know That a Site Has a Valid SSL Certificate?” below).
If you click on the trust mark, you will see additional information such as the validity period of the SSL Certificate, the domain secured, the type of SSL Certificate, and the issuing CA. A secure link is established for that session, with a unique session key, and secure communications can begin.
The short answer to this question is that you would use an SSL Certificate anywhere that you wish to transmit information securely and show customers that you are doing just that.
Encryption: Information is “jumbled up” so that it cannot be used by anyone other than the person for whom it is intended.
Decryption: “Un-jumble” information and put it back in its original format.
Key: A mathematical formula, or algorithm that is used to encrypt or decrypt your information. In the same way that a lock with many different combinations is more difficult to open, the longer the length of the encryption key (measured in number of bits), the stronger the encryption.
Browser: A software program that you use to access the Internet. Examples include: Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE); Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Flock, and Google Chrome.
Trust makes all the difference in the world of online business. Investment in technology to protect customers and earn their trust is a critical success factor for any e-commerce web site. The effective implementation of SSL Certificates and correct placement and use of trust marks are proven tools in the establishment of consumer trust.