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A Guide to SSL: A Protocol That Keeps Our Information Safe

secure sockets layer

Cybersecurity is nowadays a thriving industry. In fact, the latest estimates predict that companies will spend $12.6 billion on cloud security tools by 2023. Not only that, but the cybersecurity industry is also expected to reach $170 billion by 2020. However, this industry is growing simultaneously with the increase in cybercrimes. In fact, CNBC reported that cybercrime inflicted a $450 billion of damage on the global economy in 2016. So, how can you stay safe online today? One effective method is to understand SSL encryption.

Today, there are almost 4.57 billion internet users around the world. Out of this number, less than a half, 1.8 billion to be exact, purchase goods online. Therefore, it has become crucial that businesses protect customers’ sensitive information. This is why they rely on a sophisticated technology that removes any consumer’s concern.

While spending time online, have you noticed that some URLs begin with “http://” while others begin with “https://?” You might have noticed this additional ‘s’ on sites that ask you to provide your personal or banking information. But what’s that all about, why is there that extra ‘s?’

In layman’s terms, the extra ‘s’ indicates that your connection is secure and encrypted. So, any data you reveal is safely shared with the site. As we’ve said, the technology behind this is SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer.

We’re going to take a closer look at this technology, what it is, why it is important, and more!

Let’s start!

What Is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that establishes authenticated and encrypted links between your computer and a web server. These links are crucial as they make sure that all information you share remain private. Okay, clear enough so far. But it might be helpful if we break this definition down and provide an example.

For instance, you’re casually surfing the internet only to realize that you need to buy something. So you head to a website which asks you to fill in a form. Once you press ‘submit,’ your information might be visible to a professional hacker if the website is unsecure. This information could include credit card numbers, personal details such as your name, social security number, and other.

However, it’s a whole other story if that website has an SSL encryption. In this case, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about and you can happily continue to purchase your desired product. But if you’re dying to know how Secure Sockets Layer makes your information safe, here’s how:

  • A browser attempts to connect to a web server that is secured with SSL. The browser demands that the website identifies itself.
  • The website sends a copy of its SSL certificate.
  • Then, the browser determines whether or not to trust that certificate. If it does, it sends a message to the server.
  • The web server responds with an acknowledgement that includes a digital signature. This is when it begins an SSL encrypted session.
  • Lastly, the browser and the web server share encrypted data among themselves.

As you know, this connection occurs immediately and the good thing is that you don’t need to do anything. Just sit back and wait for the browser to determine whether the website is secure or not.

Why Is SSL Important?

The answer to this question is more than obvious. SSL keeps our sensitive information encrypted on the internet. This means that only the intended recipient can see and access them. With a certificate, you know that your information is unreadable to everyone except for the server. So, there’s no fear that a hacker or an identity thief could steal your details. 

Let’s go over two other reasons that prove that this protocol is important for any company.

SSL Confirms Your Identity

Identity verification is quite important on the internet. It prevents you from being scammed by fake websites that promise to give you the world after just one click. To minimize the risk of scammers, a website can’t just apply and expect to receive an SSL certificate immediately. In other words, there’s a certain validation process it needs to pass to get that certificate.

An organization Certificate Authority (CA) verifies the identity of a website and binds it to cryptographics keys by issuing a digital certificate. As an applicant, your business generates a key pair consisting of a private key and a public key. You also receive a certificate signing request (CSR). This is an encoded file that includes the public key and those information that will be added to the certificate, including domain name and email address. While the public key is visible to the CA, the private key is never shown to this organization.

As soon as you prove your identity, the website’s visitors will see trust indicators that confirm your integrity. This verification ensures that an imposter can’t create a fake website using your company’s name.

SSL Builds Trust

Today, customers’ trust depends on many factors. One of them is certainly Secure Sockets Layer. Having this certificate is vital from a consumer’s point of view. It makes them feel at ease, removing any doubts they might have about filling in that form on your website. Seeing signs of a secure session will encourage them to do business with you in the future. Not only that, but they will also revisit your website now that they know their information are encrypted.

Is SSL Beneficial for SEO?

Believe it or not, it actually is. Google confirmed that a secure website with SSL would have an advantage over unsecure websites. So, an SSL protocol is now part of Google’s algorithm. In fact, this search engine now uses HTTPS as a ranking signal.

Additionally, Google’s algorithm has learned that unsecured websites don’t result in a good user experience. This means that the tech giant will demote your website if you don’t have an SSL certificate. Basically, if people leave your site after seeing it is unsecure, Google will determine it isn’t trustworthy. So, you won’t rank high for a particular keyword. And we’re sure that you want to drive traffic to your website and not decrease it.

How to Find SSL on a Website?

As soon as they visit your website, customers have several indicators that show your website has SSL. However, if you aren’t sure, here’s how you know whether or not a site is secure.

Its URL Reads “https://”

The extra ‘s’ is one of the most reliable indicators that proves a website is encrypted with SSL.  Of course, you probably also find sites whose URLs begin with “http://” which should be a red flag for you immediately. Don’t share your sensitive information with these websites as the connection isn’t safe and who knows who might get a hold of your data.

This added ‘s’ looks like this:

It Has a Padlock

Depending on your web browser, the padlock will appear either on the left- or right-hand side of the address bar. This icon can provide additional information on the website you visited. Namely, by clicking on the padlock, you can find out more about the site and the organization that issued the certificate.

Here’s what it looks like on your browser:

SSL Facts

We’re increasingly leading digital lives. Today, we want to perform everything on the Internet — from paying our utility bills to ordering a new mobile phone. And we can do this with a single click. However, this means that we also need to be comfortable with sharing personal information online. Some people are still wary of submitting their credit card numbers on the internet. But with a rapid development in technology, something tells us that even doubting Thomases will soon be persuaded to share their information online.

Let’s look at some interesting statistics regarding SSL today:

  • According to BuiltWith, there are over 85 million SSL certificates online.
  • Chrome users spend 90.2% of the browsing time on https:// pages.
  • Around 21% of the Alexa Top 100,000 sites don’t use https://.
  • 1 in 10 web addresses are malicious.
  • 32.6% of websites have inadequate security.

Make Sure to Include an SSL Certificate

We hope that our article has shown that an SSL certificate is important for your business. It confirms your identity and builds trust with your customers. This certificate is especially useful if you want consumers to share their personal information with you. Once they trust you have a technology to secure their data, nothing will stop them from clicking ‘submit.’

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