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Find out about Secure Sockets Layer and how they can help you:

The 411 on SSL Certificates

Find out about Secure Sockets Layer and how they can help you:

With people having the ability to read the information of other folk, the Internet is not as safe as it once was. Hackers are people who are able to uncover the information that people pass on websites. It is also possible for them to get hold of confidential data like credit card details or passwords. Many hackers also have the ability to offer their own version of another person’s website and this can be hosted on their own server. This is done to fool customers who may be unaware of these issues. The majority of hackers act to obtain information that is of value and interest about people. One way of combating these hackers is by using the Secure Sockets Layer or SSL.

Designed in 1994 by Netscape, SSL has become a security technology that is viewed as the standard around the world. It works by creating a link that is encrypted between the web server and the browser. This makes it possible to secure any information that travels between the browser and server. This process is utilized by a great number of providers of e-Business services as they recognize they need to protect their customers’ details. They also know that they have a duty to protect the confidentiality of any shopping that occurs online.

The Certificate for SSL:

If a web server wants to use the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, it will require an SSL Certificates provided by the Certification Authorities (CA). You will have to complete several questions about the identity of your company and website, while you choose to trigger SSL on your web server. The web server then constructs two cryptographic keys i.e. a Public Key and a Private Key. The Public Key is not a furtive. It is placed in a Certificate Signing Request or CSR, which is a data file that contains your details. You then require to submit the CSR. The Certification Authority validates all the details that you have provided in the CSR throughout the SSL Certificate application process. It further allocates an SSL Certificate that contains all your details and thus allows you to use SSL. The issued SSL Certificate is matched to the Private Key by your web server. This will enable your web server to establish an encrypted link between your website and the customer’s web browser.

However, all these complex procedures of the SSL protocol remain undetectable to the customers. What their browser provides to them is a key indicator that helps to let them know they are well protected by an SSL encrypted session. There is a lock icon in the lower right hand corner of your customer’s browser by clicking which, your SSL Certificate and all other details are displayed. Generally, all these SSL Certificates are allotted to registered companies and to legally accountable individuals.

Information contained within the SSL certificate includes company name, the name of your domain, the city, an actual address, pin code, state and country. There is also the addition of the expiration date when the Certificate cannot be used after. There are also other details pertaining to the Certification Authority, the firm that provides the Certificate. If you have a SSL certificate, when you attempt to connect to a secure site, this will find the SSL certificate which is used by the site. A verification process that the SSL certificate of the other site is a genuine one to be trusted and is being used by the site that it has been allocated to. Similarly, the expiration date of the other site will be examined. If at any point an error is returned, a warning message will be provided to the user.

The golden padlock which appears on the browser has generated a higher degree of confidence amongst shoppers and is recognized as a symbol of trust. This has been taken on by many electronic business providers in an attempt to convince customers to shop with them. A whole host of shopping carts and commercial sites now offer shoppers the facility of securing their information through use of the SSL certificates. One thing to remember though is that if this information is then emailed to you, the information contained within the email is not secure.

Brand new functions:

There is an improved version of SSL v2 and it is called SSL v3. This version offers support for authenticating certificates and it now has SHA-1 based ciphers. It is true that some flaws were in SLL v2 such as when cryptographic keys were indistinguishable in addition to the authentication process for messages. There was also no provision in the previous version to secure the handshake process which meant that a downgrade attack from the “man in the middle” could occur with no one being any the wiser.

Furthermore, the Secure Sockets Layer has been recently been succeeded by Transport Layer Security TLS. This TLS is based itself on SSL and has been incorporated as an integral part of Netscape and Microsoft browsers as well as of most of the Web server products. In present days, the Secure Sockets Layer uses private and public key encryption system from RSA that also includes the utilization of a digital certificate.

SSL Certificate, do you need one:

Companies who provide an online shopping provision and allow customers to use credit cards are advised to have an SSL certificate to ensure an extra layer of protection for customers.

There is a need for offices that have intranet usage where information is being distributed to obtain an SSL certificate.

* SSL Certificates can be a useful tool in an office if confidential data is placed on an intranet system.

For businesses that have a number of partners who share and provide information on an extranet system, having an SSL certificate is able to offer more protection from hackers.

There is also a need to use SSL certificates to fully pass security and privacy requirements.

Some helpful information about purchasing SSL Certificates:

* The Certificate Authority market is quite diverse, but it is better to purchase an SSL Certificate that meets your requirements as well as budget. You can find a number of Secure Sockets Layer Certificate in different price range. The Open Directory Project identifies 22 third parties and offers over 20 root certificates that are included into Firefox and Internet Explorer. However, due to its price, it is dominated only by a few major firms.

* A survey undertaken in June of 2005 by Netcraft set out to find the names of the biggest providers of SSL certificates. This was backed up in 2007 when Security Space attempted a similar search. The top ranker was found to be Equifax, through its Geotrust arm (, the next was VeriSign plus which utilized their Thawte subsidiary ( as well as GoDaddy/Starfield (,, Comodo ( and Digicert (

In fact, depending on the measurement methodology, these six vendors as a whole have occupied approximately 95% of the total market. The Verisign holds the largest market share of around 72%, followed by Comodo which holds around 18% share, Geotrust with 3.43% of the total market share. Entrust and GoDaddy obtained approximately 2.5 % and 1% respectively. The other vendors hold 3 to 4% on an average.

About author: Gregory Trune is a staff writer for and web hosting industry blogger. Visit to read his reviews and ratings of the top web hosting companies each month.

About Emma Gilbert

Working in the marketing industry since 2002. This blog is one of my hobbies.

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