A Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

Estimated reading time: 11 minute(s)

When it comes to building any relationship online, trust is one of the most important aspects. In an event where you are never going to meet the other party, faith and trust dictate business transactions. 

With money being involved, as a business, you need to be sure that your interests on the internet are always protected. Throw ‘data’ and its importance into the equation and trust becomes of paramount importance. 

For website owners that see users and visitors visit for one or the other reasons, establishing trust is essential to the health and survival of the website. This is where Secure Sockets Layer or SSL comes into the picture. 

In this beginner’s guide, we will look at some critical aspects of SSL, including- 

  • The meaning and definition of SSL
  • The Importance of an SSL certificate
  • Common problems that website owners face when it comes to SSL
  • Final Analysis

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): Meaning and Definition

According to Keyfactor, SSL can be defined as an internet security regulation that conveys to the users that the website, they are visiting is safe and secure. 

When a user tries to visit a website, there are hundreds of small pockets of information that are exchanged. This includes the browser the user is using, the machine/system, the IP address, the network provider, and so on. 

If the website is an Ecommerce one, the user might be entering their credit card details as well. To protect the sanctity of the data and ensure the presence of a trustworthy environment, website owners install an SSL Certificate. 

In technical terms, an SSL certificate is understood as a small batch of cryptographically encrypted files that create a safe link between the server of the website and the browser. In other words, this link is impenetrable and no one can have access to the same. 

The Importance of an SSL Certificate in today’s times

First things first. How would you identify whether the site has an active SSL certificate? This is easy. Sites which start with an HTTPS are SSL encrypted and sites that are only HTTP are not. 

The importance of SSL was categorically stated by Google in July 2018. Google took a landmark decision to label all HTTP sites as ‘insecure. All HTTPS sites started with a lock icon to show that they are secure and have the SSL certificate installed. 

As you can imagine, users started losing faith in insecure HTTP websites, which fell in importance and their businesses suffered drastically. 

Another major reason why most webmasters insist on SSL is that it is great for SEO. Google insiders have come out and mentioned that the algorithm looks at SSL and takes into consideration search rankings. 

Common problems that Website Owners face when it comes to SSL

In this section, we will list down some of the most common problems website owners face when it comes to SSL- 

  • While education on the subject has meant that everyone agrees that SSL is important, many are unclear about what kind of an SSL they should opt for. 
  • Some SSL certificates are free while others need to be paid for. Expert suggests that going for paid options is always better than the free ones that have limited periods. 
  • Website owners must also avoid choosing the wrong Certificate Authority. This is one factor that needs to be taken into consideration at all times. 
  • As a website owner, you should never try to self-sign the certificate. You cannot authenticate something that belongs to you. You need an external authority. 
  • Faltering at the Validation stage. A credible Certificate Authority will validate your website and the company before issuing you with an SSL. 

The Bottom Line

In this article, we have tried to list down some of the essentials of SSL. If you have any other questions that you would like us to answer on SSL or any other areas like CA or Validation, mention them in the comments section below. 

Contributing Author

This article was written by a guest author or freelancer.

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