Decoding SSL: How does SSL certificate protect against hacking?

August 7, 2015 | By Editor 

Since its inception at the hands of Netscape in 1994 to the evolution in form of Transport Layer Security (TLS), the necessity of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) doesn’t seem to be waning any sooner. If anything has changed, that’s the unprecedented audacity of cyber criminals who have given us more reasons to entrust SSL connections for safer online transactions.

For a majority of online users, SSL still remains an enigma, and they assume it’s a “security upgrade” they can opt out from. They could not be any further from truth. As the traditional marketplace is making a mammoth leap from the brick-and-mortar establishments to the infinite opportunity that eCommerce offers, online businesses should realize that the safety of consumer data is their liability.

To start with, website owners who are not familiar with SSL should educate themselves on the importance of having SSL certificates and the role they play in everyday communication online.

What is an SSL?

SSL is a protocol that encrypts a message between a sender and a receiver to avoid third-party snooping. It is an industry-standard cryptographic technology required to secure a connection between a web server and a remote browser. To communicate over an SSL connection, a website requires SSL certificates.

If the definition is a little complex for you to understand, there are visual cues for you to comprehend it differently. Website URLs protected with SSL certificates always begin with https: instead of http: by rule, and usually a padlock reinforces the domain’s SSL status. This symbolizes that the website is encrypted and thus, safe for users to transact with.

An SSL handshake takes place when the web server of a website contacts a browser in a remote location and establishes a secure network.

How does an SSL certificate provide protection?

SSL certification is provided only to thoroughly validated, genuine websites. It’s a hard nut to crack for hackers and phishing agents to get SSL certificates for their dubious website. This is why SSL protected websites have built a reputation for being safe against hacking and phishing scams.

Additionally, as a website security layer, a SSL certificate makes the encrypted message meaningless – and useless – to the hackers even if they are able to intercept a message. The message becomes illegible because it appears as a combination of random hash in a string.

When users are browsing a website that doesn’t have SSL certificate, the browser displays a message warning the viewers against unsafe or unverified identity of the web server. This can spell doom for websites that depend on online revenue to stay in business.

The technicality of how SSL certificates operate are the “behind the curtain” scenes of an act that viewers don’t care to see or understand, but in today’s highly vulnerable cyber market, their role is extremely important to keep the show running. SSL is just one of the many security measures you can choose when it comes to protecting your websites; Wildcard SSL or TLS certificates offer consolidated safety against risky behaviors.



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