What is SSL Certificate and why every website must be certified?
Security should be the number one priority for all online businesses in the era of digital transformation. This is why: Why:
A report shows that more than 70% of companies reported a cybersecurity attack last year (2018).
The report by Cyren-Osterman Research found some interesting things about the current state of the security sector online. Here are the top 10 threats each company faces.
Attacks by Ransomware (67 percent )
Infringement of sensitive or confidential information (66 percent )
Attacks on phishing (62 percent )
HTTPS/SSL web traffic malware infiltration (54 percent )
Specific attacks/null-day exploits (54 percent )
IT/workers with unauthorized cloud applications and services (48 percent )
Botnet endpoints affected (46 percent )
Installed in internal PCs or servers cryptocurrency mining malware (45 percent )
CPU use by cryptomonetary miners when visiting websites (38 percent )
Web pages that violate corporate policies for employees (36 percent )
The loss of personal data or information can raise questions about a company’s credibility and reputation.
You thus need to improve the security of your website and safeguard everything – from contact information to credit card details for your website visitor.
The SSL Certificate can be used to do so.
What is a certificate for SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a security protocol that provides a secure, encrypted connection between a web-browser and web-server.
You need a certificate called an SSL certificate to create and activate an SSL connection on your web server.
The server establishes an encrypted link to web browsers and creates confidence for visitors.
SSL certificate is a data file which connects the details of a company to a cryptographical key digitally. Links between SSL certificates:
Identity of an organization (company name and address)
Name of host, domain or server.
Once an organization has installed an SSL Certificate, secure web sessions such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chromium, Safari and so on are started.
As shown in the image above, a padlock icon and HTTPS protocol will be activated when you install an SSL certificate, to let visitors understand that your website is safe.
In the image above, the site doesn’t use SSL and thus its web address will display ‘Not Safe’ warnings for visitors, the web address will begin with HTTP, not HTTPS.
The web address starts with a Padlock icon and has an HTTPS when SSL is installed. ‘S’ means Secure in the HTTPS.
What is the Transport Layer Security certificate or TLS certificate?
TLS is an updated SSL version that is more secure. For a long time, the SSL protocol was used to encrypt the transmitted data.
The version number was changed for reflecting the updates whenever an SSL was updated to a secure Version. The new version was, however, named TLSv1.0 after SSLv3.0, rather than SSLv4.0.
Since SSL is the most widely accepted term, however, the majority of SSL providers still use it with regard to their certificates.
How do I have confidence in an SSL certificate?
Anyone in the world can generate a certificate but only the certified signatures of a trusted certificate authority, such as Comodo, GlobalSign, DigiCert and so on, are reliable to leading browsers.
Browsers have a list of CAs they trust, which is known as the Trusted Root CA store.
The Trusted Root CA stores are only those organisations, as required by the browsers, which pass stringent security and authentication standards.
By examining different aspects of its identity, such as fields of interest, websites, locations, etc. CA issues an SSL certificate to an organisation, thus authenticating the identity of the organization with a trusted third party.
The browser relies on the certificate authority, so that in turn, the browser relies on an SSL certificate for the identity of the company.
The website visitor can navigate the website in safety and trust it with its confidential informations via a number of signs explained above.
How much SSL certificate should I use?
Whenever a Web site requires the entry of personal and sensitive information into the Internet or any internal network, SSL certificates should be implemented.
Personal data may include online filling out of forms or account logging.
It is common belief that SSL certificates should only be used to secure credit card transactions and payment pages.
But, fundamentally, the SSL certificates should be available to all websites where personal information is exchanged.
The minimum security standards for the collection/submission of data used in a web site should be SSL.
SSL certificates on a website are required for all the following situations.
To ensure online credit card transactions.
Securing login information and other sensitive user data.
Securing web access, exchange and office access and other webmails and applications from Outlook.
To secure transfer of the file via HTTPS and FTP services, as is the case with transfer of a large file.
To secure computer platforms or workflows for cloud-based applications.
For example, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange can secure the connection between an email client and an email server.
Securing intranet traffic, such as internal networks, file sharing, database connections, etc.
Security of Network logins and other SSL VPN network traffic or gateway applications.
How is SSL or TLS functioning?
Here we explain briefly what happens when a link is established between an SSL website and a browser.
This process is called the ‘SSL handshake’ or the Online Certification Status Protocol (OCSP) response between the secure site and the visitor’s browser.
A visitor asks for a web site connection from their browser.
The browser obtains the IP address of the website from a DNS server and calls for a secure connection.
In order to establish a secure connection, the browser asks the website’s server to identify itself with a copy of their SSL Certificate.
This is supplied to the browser by the server.
The browser recognizes the SSL certificate issued by the Certificate Authority (CA) and contacts the certificate to know whether the certificate is valid.
CA verifies that it has not been revoked and confirms its validity.
The browser then confirms other safety standards – key lengths, and so on.
The certificate domain is also checked for the desired domain.
The website generates a symmetrical key for the session when the browser is sure that it can be trusted and encrypts with its public key of the SSL certificate. It is then sent to the web server via the session key.
The web server uses its private key to decrypt the session key.
The web server returns the admission that the session key is now encrypted.
This is it! This is it! All data transfer is now secure and encrypted between the browser and the server.
What are the advantages of having an SSL certificate?
If you ask how your online company can benefit from an SSL certificate, read these SSL advantages:
Enhance security of websites
SSL Certificate’s function is to encrypt your end-users’ sensitive information through contact formulations, forms of checking, or any other source.
This information may include credit card information, banking information, telephone number, home address or any other contact information.
SSL Certificate reduces the risk to hackers and thieves of sensitive information.
It will simply allow secure online communication between the two parties.
Let people know your site is trustworthy
Years ago, only e-commerce companies considered SSL certificates to be critical as they process financial transactions online.
Today, though, things have changed.
Over the years, Google has done a lot to make the web a more secure place for all.
The internet giant ensures that any website uses HTTPS protocol to encrypt and secure data from a web browser.
In July 2018, Google published Chrome 68 and made it mandatory to use HTTPS protocol on all websites or that the website show visitors ‘not secure’ warning.
The red “not secure” warning looks frightful and can discourage visitors from providing any information or considering a purchase.
This is even more worrying because all your competitors move to HTTPS.
On the other hand, the Padlock icon and HTTPS in the web address can help you win visitors’ confidence in the safe handling of data.
Values for SEO
Another benefit of using an SSL certificate is that the SEO on your website is improved.
Google’s HTTPS initiative offers websites with encrypted communication links a slight boost in search engine rankings.
If your site is not secure, your competitors are more likely than you.
How can I find my website with the right SSL Certificate?
There are various kinds of SSL Certificates, such as Domain Validation, extended validation, OV, Wildcard Certificates and more. Different kinds of Certificates are available for a different purpose.
Certificate types for SSL
Certificates of domain validation (DV)
DV certificates are the most commonly used SSL certificates issued after the domain name has been validated.
A certificate authority (CA) shall verify the applicant’s rights to use the domain name before issuing those certificates.
DV certificates are issued immediately as verification is necessary for only the domain name.
SSL Certificate of Organization Validated (OV)
The CA will validate the name of the domain and the existence of the organization when issuing an OV certificate.
This helps visitors to ensure that the website is owned by a licensed company.
The CA needs to verify organizational details for this certificates to be issued some time.
SSL Certificate for Extended Validation (EV)
It is the best SSL available and is therefore perfect for banks, e-commerce websites and other websites that require credit/debit card and other information confidential protection from their customers.