What is SSL Certificate and How it Works? – Complete Guide

When running an online business or website which transfers sensitive information like user data, password, email, credit card details from browser to the server, there is a big risk that this data might get stolen by some hacker sitting in between. As there is no encryption, it will be steal and might be used for unlawful purposes. To solve this problem and create a security shield between all this a protocol was defined known as SSL, so What is SSL Certificate and How it Works?

What is SSL Certificate?

SSL(Secure Sockets Layer) is an standard protocol used over the web for authenticating and encrypting the connection between browser and server. A mail server and a mail client can also use this. It encrypts the sensitive information like credit card information, passwords, login details etc. and instead of sending in it plain text, it will be forwarded and received in some encrypted form.

To allow SSL to be used, an SSL certificate needs to be installed on the website, which can easily be obtained from any hosting company. SSL certificate is a digital certificate which authenticates that the website is under SSL protocol security.

How SSL Certificate Works?

SSL certificate works by establishing a secure connection between the client and server. The detailed steps are given below:

  • Firstly, browser contacts the web server secured with SSL to identify itself.
  • After receiving the request, the web server sends back its identity.
  • The browser than checks the validity and authenticity and if it trusts it, browser transmits this acceptance to the web browser using the server’s public key.
  • Now the server sends acknowledgement to start the secured session between browser and server.

All this process is a matter of milliseconds and is known as SSL Handshake. It is not visible to the users and all happens between the browser and web server.

Why Do i Need SSL Certificate for My Website?

The primary usage of SSL certificate remains securing the online connections but there are also some other benefits which are given below

  • It helps in building and increasing the user trust on website.
  • Improve the rankings in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
  • Making the web safer for the users and web servers.
  • Protecting the unlimited flow of data transmitted daily through internet.

How to Get SSL Certificate for Website

SSL certificates are issued and maintained by the trusted Certificate Authority (CA). All of the browsers, OS and mobile devices keeps the lists of these CA root certificates. The certificate should be present on the user device so that the browser can trust it and proceed further. Many CA authorities are present on the internet through which you can acquire SSL certificate and are listed below:

SSL certificates are mostly not free and you’ve to pay a good amount for it. Mostly companies offers yearly and half yearly plans for it. You can check the pricing by visiting the links given above.

How to Get SSL Certificate for Website Free

You can also get SSL certificate free of cost as many hosting companies offer it as an free add-on with their hosting plans. Apart from it, famous CDN Cloudflare offers free SSL certificate but for that you’ve to connect your website with them.

How to Tell if a Website has an SSL Certificate

If you want to determine that if the website is using an SSL certificate or not is to check the address bar of your browser and compare the following things.

  • Check whether the address of the website starts with http:// or https://, if it starts with https:// then it using the SSL certificate and if not then it is operating without it.
  • The sites which are secured shows the closed padlock icon before it, if the padlock is broken or red then the site isn’t using the SSL cerificate.

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Types of SSL Certificates

All of the SSL certificates present on the internet provides the same level of encryption but the difference in types occurs at the validation level. The validations have three types which are:

  • Domain validated certificates (DV SSL)
  • Organization validated certificates (OV SSL)
  • Extended validated certificates (EV SSL)

Domain validated certificates have lowest level of validation as compared to the other two, then comes the OV SSL and on highest level is EV SSL.

Apart from differentiating them on the basis of their validation, they are also differentiated on the basis of their scope of usage.

Single Domain SSL Certificates

In this type, the domain and all of the pages are protected and secured. All three levels of validation can be applied here.

Wildcard SSL Certificates

In this type, the main domain, its pages and sub-domains and its pages are secured through it. For ex: if the website “anywebsite.com” has sub domains like “contact.anywebsite.com” or “shop.anywebsite.com”, it will automatically get secured if it is used.

Multi Domain SSL Certificates

In this type, you can purchase the license and then use SSL certificates on upto 100 websites. This is mostly used by the big companies and agencies running multiple websites.

HTTP vs HTTPS

Many users on the internet mostly get confused when they see http and https before the website address. There is a simple and only difference between the two which is SSL encryption. The website using SSL will have https while http will have no SSL installed.

SSL vs TLS

TLS is not entirely different but an improved version of SSL. It offers extended encryption and validation for better security on internet. TLS stands for Transport Layer Security. The certificates used on internet now are TLS but SSL is still popularly known term instead of it.

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Conclusion

The security risks associated with the internet keeps growing so is the security protocols created to battle it. If you are a website owner then you must ensure that your website is secure and users aren’t compromising on their details when they visit it. SSL certificate is must have thing and you should use it to enjoy the benefits associated with it. Most of the questions associated with it are answered here. If you couldn’t find what you are looking for then let us know in the comments.

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