For website owners, it’s pretty much become common knowledge that installing an SSL certificate is of the utmost importance. However, while people do know that SSL certificates are important, the less tech savvy may not know exactly why this is.
Today, we’re going to go a little more in-depth for those who want to know the how and the why. Read on to find out how an SSL protects your site, in easy terms that anyone can understand.
An encrypted connection
Some of the biggest confusion surrounding SSLs is how they specifically foster a more secure browsing environment. The main point of an SSL is to keep data secure while in transit by using encryption. Encryption converts data into an unreadable code. This code can only be decrypted by an authorized party who has the correct key. This whole process is known as cryptography.
Now that we’ve gotten some of the complicated jargon out of the way, how does actually this look in action? Using the TLS protocol, an SSL certificate creates an encrypted connection between a client and a server. Typically, this is a user’s browser and your website. Any information sent over this encrypted connection cannot be intercepted by third parties. This is especially important if you ask users to share personal data like credit card numbers or banking details.
An SSL certificate creates an encrypted connection through a process called the SSL handshake.
The SSL handshake
A very technical process, if we tried to explain all the ins and outs of the SSL handshake, we’d be here all day. But we think you’ll get the idea from a brief overview.
The SSL handshake is the process in which a client and a server communicate via a series of messages to authenticate each other and to determine how a secure connection will be established. They share what cipher suites they support and decide what method of key exchange they will use. Cipher suites are basically the steps that must be followed to establish a secure connection, while key exchange is how they authenticate each other and create the connection.
All this only takes a few seconds in total and users don’t even notice it’s happening. If everything’s in order, a secure connection is established in no time at all and website users can browse your site safely and securely.
Hopefully you come away from this article with a better idea of the ins and outs of SSLs and why they’re so important. Not only do they protect user data, but seeing SSL markers on your site (such as the SSL padlock in the browser address bar) will immediately make new visitors feel more at ease and regard your site as trustworthy. These days, major browsers also view websites without SSLs as untrustworthy, and alert users to this fact. So if you don’t have an SSL, you may just end up losing a lot of potential visitors and customers.
All of that is to say, if you haven’t yet secured your site, get yourself an SSL certificate today.