Just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend that is clueless, when it comes to the internet. She asked me one question; “Is buying stuff online really safe?” My answer was as long as they have an SSL certificate. Needless to say, I got a look that pretty much said “that means nothing to me.” So, I figured I would write an article showing exactly what SSL certificates are and why they make online shopping secure.
SSL’s are such a vital part to the eCommerce world today that a lot of webmasters don’t understand just how important they are to your website. To put it into perspective; SSL certificates are a vital part an eCommerce site. One wouldn’t exist without the other. Just like wheels are to cars; they really just both go hand in hand. Basically, that means that if you run a eCommerce site it’s vital that you have one. You have started a website and know your business is hosted in a PCI-compliant environment. You have also signed up with a trustworthy merchant provider, and you’ve got a secure shopping cart. What else do you need? Online security protocol may seem redundant, but you do not want to overlook getting hold of a SSL certificate.
In todays digital age we are all a little alarmed when we buy stuff online. Let’s face it we don’t want to get ripped off when we spend our money online. This is where SSL certificates come in to play, though.
So what are SSL certificates, and what are they for?
SSL or Secure Socket Layer certificates, were created by Netscape to confirm the identity of website servers, encrypt data that are transmitted, and protect the integrity, including credit card numbers and other personal data during transmission. SSL are cryptographic protocols that give security on network communications. In particular, they prevent deciphering of data transmitted between a client’s browser and the server the business is hosting on by third parties. When encrypted data arrive at the secure server, you know it is safe to be unscrambled again.
In split seconds, let’s see what happens to keep your data safe:
- Your browser and the server exchange encryption options, then agree on the encryption method for transfer.
- The browser validates that a server’s certificate was issued by a trusted certificate authority.
- The encrypted data is sent from the browser to the server.
- Finally, a key is used to authenticate the integrity of the transmission.
Now you see what happens when a “Confirm” payment key is pressed. So avoiding the dangers for a customer’s private financial information is vital for online businesses. Now where do you get this SSL certificate, and do all these SSL certificates give the same security level? You get a SSL certificate from your web hosting provider. Nearly all of them sell them for a yearly price. The prices can be different from host to host. For example GoDaddy.com sells them for $55.99 to $269.99 per year. Another company NameCheap.com sells them for $9-$99 per year. It really just depends on the web hosting company.
Getting Properly Secured
The security level of data transfers is really limited by the browser capabilities, but most of the newer commercial browsers can support 128 bit date encryption, and this is almost impossible mathematically to crack. For SSL certificates that offer 256 bit encryption or higher, there is no major difference in security. However, each certificate authority or CA is responsible for checking out that businesses are truly legitimate, and they own the domain. Various CAs may actually require different authentication requirements. When you’re buying your SSL certificate, remember that consumer perception of SSL CAs do vary, so help your clients feel protected by choosing a brand with strong online credibility.
Keep in mind if you see a website with a https this means they are secure.
Do you have any questions that were not answered in this article about SSL certificates. Please leave your comments down below.