You might have heard about an acronym called “SSL” being spoken about in the past before, and perhaps your knowledge on the matter is limited to knowing that it is just something to do with websites.
Here is a handy guide that demystifies this subject for you, and explains the importance of it when it comes to websites and Internet security in general.
What exactly is SSL?
SSL, short for Secure Sockets Layer, is a term used to describe a type of website security.
Developed by a company called Netscape (any veteran web surfers out there will remember they used to develop a web browser called Netscape Navigator), it is a way of securing or “encrypting” information sent between a website visitor’s browser and the server that the website is hosted on.
When you visit a website or web page that is protected by SSL encryption, you will notice that the URL (website address) in your web browser’s address bar starts with “https://” rather than the usual “http://”. The ‘s’ signifies that the page you are looking at has something called an SSL certificate attached to it, to confirm security credentials.
An SSL certificate is basically a digital certificate that display information such as the type of encryption used (128-bit, 256-bit, and so on), what website the certificate is used for, whom it is registered to, what certificate authority it was registered by, validation dates, and all sorts of other technical and detailed information.
Should I be using SSL certificates on my website?
There are many reasons why you would want to use SSL encryption on your website, here are some common examples:
● Collecting personal information - if your website has a contact form, or some other kind of form that gets submitted to you and contains personal information such as names, addresses and contact numbers, then you want to make sure that no-one can hijack that information whilst it is being transmitted (for example, hackers looking at data sent by people’s laptops over unsecure Wi-Fi links);
● E-commerce sites - if you have a website where your customers can order products and services, then it is essential that all information they share with you, such as personal information and credit card numbers, be encrypted;
● Privacy - search engines like Google, for example, use SSL on their websites so that people cannot spy on what they are searching for online.
If you are looking to secure your website, or parts of it, with an SSL certificate, then it is crucial that you compare all SSL certificates and find the best one for your business.
Are there different types of SSL that can be used?
Yes, there are several options when it comes to purchasing SSL certificates. Ones offered at the cheaper end of the market tend to be for a single domain name only, whereas other options are available such as wildcard domain SSL certificates (i.e. subdomain1.domain.com and subdomain2.domain.com etc.), and even multi-domain certificates.
It all depends on your particular requirements; however, Thawte offers a range of different products for the best SSL protection available, so it is worth having a chat with them to determine what type of SSL certification you need.