What are SSL Certificates and why do I need them?

MultiImg1The Internet is your gateway to millions of potential new customers. Moving your business online provides the convenience and accessibility your customers and partners demand, helping you to stand out from the competition.

As organizations provide more services and transactions online, security becomes a necessity. Customers need to be confident that sensitive information such as a credit card number is going to a legitimate online business. Organizations need to keep customer information private and secure.

SSL certificates are an essential component of the data encryption process that make internet transactions secure. They are digital passports that provide authentication to protect the confidentiality and integrity of website communication with browsers.

The SSL certificate’s job is to initiate secure sessions with the user’s browser via the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol. This secure connection cannot be established without the SSL certificate, which digitally connects company information to a cryptographic key.

Any organization that engages in ecommerce must have an SSL certificate on its Web server to ensure the safety of customer and company information, as well as the security of financial transactions.

How SSL Certificates Work

  1. A browser or server attempts to connect to a Website, a.k.a. Web server, secured with SSL. The browser/server requests that the Web server identify itself.
  2. The Web server sends the browser/server a copy of its SSL certificate.
  3. The browser/server checks to see whether or not it trusts the SSL certificate. If so, it sends a message to the Web server.
  4. The Web server sends back a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an SSL encrypted session.
  5. Encrypted data is shared between the browser/server and the Web server.

There are many benefits to using SSL Certificates. Namely, SSL customers:

  • Get HTTPs which elicits a stronger Google ranking
  • Create safer experiences for your customers
  • Build customer trust and improve conversions
  • Protect both customer and internal data
  • Encrypt browser-to-server and server-to-server communication
  • Increase security of your mobile and cloud apps

How SSL Works Chart

To learn more, check out our Understanding Digital Certificates & Secure Sockets Layer paper, which explains what secure sockets layer (SSL) digital certificates are and why they are essential to providing secure online transactions.