What is an SSL certificate?

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL certificate: The number of hackers and data thieves seems to be growing inexorably. As an ambitious Internet user, you come across certain terms almost every day, words that you’ve read many times before, but struggle to understand what they mean exactly. In the following, the term SSL certificate is explained in an easy-to-understand way.

What is an SSL certificate?

There are many measures to protect users – one of them is the so-called SSL certificate. If the communication between server and browser (client), for example, between a website visitor and online business, is encrypted, browsers display a lock symbol as a security indicator. To establish such an encrypted connection, an SSL certificate is required. Especially pages on which private data (such as bank data) is entered must therefore be able to be accessed securely. They contain details about the server you have connected to and is mainly intended to ensure that the owner of a website is really who they claim to be.

SSL stands for “Secure-Sockets-Layer” and encrypts the communication of data that is transported from your computer to a server. They create trust because each certificate contains identifying information. When you request an SSL certificate, a third party verifies your company information and issues a certificate that is unique to you based on that information. This is called authentication.

You often find the term TLS, whereby the abbreviation TLS stands for “Transport-Layer-Security“. It is nothing more than the standardized evolution of the “Secure Sockets Layer” protocol: SSL was made standard with version 3.1 and renamed TLS 1.0. However, since the term SSL is better known, it is still widely used.

How does an SSL certificate work?

Your client connects to a server and usually, the server first authenticates itself to the client with a certificate. Then either the client sends the server a secret random number – encrypted with the server’s public key – or the server and your client calculate a shared secret method. This secret is then used to calculate a key, which is subsequently applied to encode the communication using symmetric encryption.

An SSL certificate is therefore nothing more than an agreement between your client and a server to encrypt your data to be transmitted to the server.

Why do I need an SSL certificate?

Hackers, phishers, and data thieves are a widespread and growing problem on the world wide web today. Especially websites on which private data is entered are economically interesting for cybercriminals. What matters to them is not the size of a store, but the data. This means that a small shop is just as much at risk as a well-known online retailer. The rule of thumb is: if sensitive data (comments with e-mail address, personal details in orders such as the address, bank details, etc.) are requested, the connection must be encrypted. The IT Security Act also brings with it a legal obligation for commercial websites to protect website visitors’ data.

Thanks to SSL certificates, the secrecy of online traffic is maintained despite the public nature of the Internet. This strengthens your customers’ confidence in the security of your website. If users need to log in to your website, enter personal data such as credit card numbers online, or enter confidential data such as health insurance benefits or account information, you need to ensure the secrecy of this data.

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