SSL stands for “Secure Socket Layer,” also known as the “Secure Login Layer,” enables your web browser to establish secure communication with the server you want to connect to. SSL uses a server’s “Private Key” for execution, while the browser or processor utilizes a separate software called the “Public Key.” Consequently, your data is transmitted in an encrypted format between the “Private Key” and “Public Key.” In simpler terms, when you, as a user, attempt to connect to a website equipped with an SSL certificate, all the information you share with the website, such as passwords or credit card details, is fully encrypted and securely sent to the server of the connected website. This enhanced security measure contributes to a safer online experience when browsing with your browser.
For SSL-secured websites, your browser needs to support SSL protocols. Fortunately, all major web browsers which we encounter in our daily lives fully endorse the SSL protocol. To check if a website follows an SSL policy, add “HTTPS” to the entered domain name. If the term “secure” is displayed at the top left of the address bar (alongside “safe,” a lock symbol, or a green checkmark, the website has a valid SSL certificate.
Written by Fast Panda experts, this blog post guarantees an insightful journey into the intricate landscape of online protection. Join us as we empower you with the knowledge to navigate the web securely. Let’s start by exploring the fundamentals: How Does SSL Work?
How Does SSL Work?
Understanding how SSL works is a breeze! Picture SSL as a lock sporting two keys. If you’re a website owner armed with an SSL certificate, you’ve got the first key in hand – it’s snug on your server and serves the locking purpose we just mentioned. The visitors navigating your site now hold the second key to this digital lock. They use this key to open the lock you’ve set in place. Once they pop that lock, they securely transmit all the data they share in an encrypted format within the locked zone. Additionally, this secure area dispatches any data the website sends back to the visitor. In essence, SSL acts like a secure courier, ferrying encrypted information between the website and the user from a protected space. Easy, right?
Now, let’s delve into what SSL certificates are used for.
What are SSL Certificates Used For?
As we mentioned earlier, some popular browsers now flag websites without an SSL certificate as “unsecure” to warn visitors. It’s a super-effective way to boost security in our fast-paced digital world. Having an SSL certificate is a must if you’re gathering visitor data on your website; it keeps both you and your visitors safe. While we often link SSL with online stores, it’s not just for them. With the rise of cyber threats, everyone wants more security, making SSL really important.
Now, let’s break down the perks of having an SSL certificate:
- Safe Payment Handling: If your website deals with credit card payments, getting an SSL certificate is a no-brainer. Some hosting companies even insist on it for website administrators. It ensures that transactions are secure for both you and your visitors.
- Guarding Password Logins: While we typically associate password logins with online stores and forums, they’re just as vital for websites using WordPress or Joomla! An SSL certificate plays a protective role for sites where administrators log in with usernames and passwords, a crucial measure to prevent hackers from seizing control by getting hold of your passwords.
- Securing Web Forms: Nowadays, websites go beyond collecting data solely for transactions. Even on non-commerce sites, they gather personal information such as names, visitor numbers, or opinions via surveys. Visitors are increasingly concerned about the security of their information, especially given the prevalence of hacker groups. Having an SSL certificate is the key to preventing these cyber threats from accessing your data. Without it, there’s a risk that hackers could gain access to all your information.
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Stepping into the next section, let’s explore SSL/TLS types and verification methods to understand the diverse layers securing our digital interactions.
What are SSL/TLS Types and Verification Methods?
There are various SSL certificates available in the market with varying prices and features. Below, we’ve provided information about different SSL types and verification methods.
DV SSL (Domain Validation) Certificate
Let’s begin with the DV SSL (Domain Validation Secure Socket Layer) certificate. You can install DV SSL instantly. Any SSL certificate you own, including those available for free use, falls under the category of DV SSL certificates. These certificates solely verify the domain name, earning them the title “Domain Verified Certificate.” DV SSL automatically validates much of the information provided by your hosting company and facilitates the SSL certificate installation.
Many people prefer the DV SSL certificate because of its easy acquisition and cost-effectiveness.
OV SSL (Organization Validation) Certificate
If you find yourself waiting for a certificate for your website, chances are you’re dealing with the OV SSL certificate. Also known as the “Organization Approved Secure Login Layer” certificate, OV SSL not only encrypts data but also provides additional information to your visitors or the sites you visit, confirming the legitimacy of a company.
To obtain an OV SSL certificate, the issuing organization verifies your company’s phone number, physical address, whois information, and the authority of the person applying for the certificate to make decisions on behalf of the company. This additional scrutiny indirectly enhances trust among visitors or the sites they explore.
EV SSL (Extended Validation) Certificate
Corporate companies prefer the EV SSL certificate because it provides a more secure option compared to others in the market. It involves more extensive verification processes than OVL SSL certificates. To acquire an EV SSL certificate, you undergo additional checks to ensure the legality of your activities. It’s worth noting that the demand for this type of SSL certificate has decreased since some browsers removed the “green bar,” a visual indicator of whether a website has an SSL certificate. Also, it’s essential to know that EV SSL certificates are relatively more expensive.
Multi-Domain SSL Certificate
Webmasters prefer the Multi-Domain SSL certificate for hosting multiple websites on a single server. Installable on servers, these certificates apply to all domain names, offering a cost-effective solution for users.
Explore in-depth details about the Fast Panda SSL Certificate Right Here!
What are the Characteristics of the SSL Protocol?
SSL Protocol encrypts messages, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized decryption. It ensures that the sender and recipients of a message are the intended individuals. The protocol also verifies the timestamps of existing documents and streamlines the process of creating document archives.
Why is an SSL Certificate Essential?
Protecting your website visitors’ personal information, including names, addresses, and credit card details, is crucial. An SSL certificate is essential for achieving effective and efficient security of sensitive user data.
Furthermore, various web browsers label sites as “not secure” if they lack SSL, and those employing external SSL are prioritized in search results. These factors underscore the necessity of implementing SSL for a website.
In summary, SSL, once optional, is now a mandatory protocol.
Beyond these considerations, let’s delve into the benefits that an SSL certificate offers to website owners:
- Authentication: Among the most crucial advantages is authentication, which verifies the connection between you and the server. It ensures that you are linked to the correct server, affirming the legitimacy of your transactions.
- Encryption: SSL encryption secures your transactions, whether between browsers and servers, applications and browsers, or solely between browsers. This robust encryption significantly enhances the overall security of your interactions.
- Data Integrity: It verifies the accuracy of the data you send or receive, ensuring it reaches the intended destinations accurately.
In today’s world, with the increasing threat of cybercrime and the resulting losses, website owners must emphasize the mentioned aspects.
Why is an SSL Certificate Important for Websites?
An SSL certificate is crucial for safeguarding the data of your website visitors. In today’s digital landscape, cyber threats have become increasingly prevalent, prompting visitors to prioritize the security of their personal information. This heightened awareness has underscored the imperative for robust data protection measures.
The SSL certificate you’ll receive plays a vital role in securing various aspects of your visitors’ information, including:
- Login credentials of your website visitors
- Credit card transactions or bank account details of your website visitors
- Personal identification information such as names, addresses, dates of birth, and phone numbers of your website visitors
- Legal documents and contracts pertinent to your website visitors
- Medical records of your website visitors
- Proprietary information concerning your website visitors.
How to Obtain an SSL Certificate?
To get an SSL certificate, follow these steps:
- Ensure your server installation is complete and verify that the information submitted to the certification authority is accurate.
- Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on the server you’ve set up.
- Submit the CSR to your certification authority for domain and company details verification.
- Once all processes are finished, upload the certificate provided by your certification authority.
- If you’re hosting the website yourself, later configure the received certificate on your computer or servers.
It’s important to note that the type of certificate and the provider you choose may impact the certificate acquisition process.
How to Install SSL?
If you have a hosting account and can access the cPanel hosting management panel, you can easily install the “Encrypt SSL” certificate without any fees or assistance. Wondering how to go about it?
- Simply type “security” in the search box within your cPanel, then click the “Let’s Encrypt” button in the resulting section.
- Once you’ve clicked on “Let’s Encrypt,” choose the “create certificate” option next to your domain name on the opened page.
- In the subsequent window, check the boxes for “mail.yourdomain.com” and “www.yourdomain.com” under the “include?” question.
- If your hosting resources permit, also check the box in the “Include cPanel access services” section. This will extend the SSL certificate to subdomain addresses like “cpanel.yourdomain.com” or “webmail.yourdomain.com.” Keep in mind that this step is optional and not usually preferred.
- Under “Please select SSL verification method,” opt for the “http-01” option in the “It all works automatically” section.
- Now, click on the final step, “create certificate.” Congratulations, your certificate has been successfully installed.
- Similarly, if you’re using the Direct Admin panel, you can follow these steps to install Let’s Encrypt (SSL):
- Log in to your Direct Admin panel as a user and navigate to “SSL certificate management” by clicking the corresponding button in the “account management” section.
- In the “SSL certificate management” section, choose the domain where you want to install the SSL certificate.
- Select the “free and automatic Let’s Encrypt” option at the bottom.
- Pick your domain in the “known name” section and then opt for the “general search” option.
- Ensure the “4096” option is selected in the “Key size (bit)” section.
- In the “Certificate type” section, choose the “SHA256” option.
- Leave the “Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate Entries” box blank.
- Specify the sub-branches where you want the SSL to be installed and remember to click “save.”
- Upon completion, if you see the notification “yourdomain.com has been created successfully,” you have successfully and freely installed the SSL you desired.
SSL and SEO: Exploring Their Connection
The interplay between SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has sparked numerous discussions, with varied opinions on their relationship. While having an SSL certificate isn’t an absolute necessity for SEO, it’s undeniable that the synergy between SEO and SSL can yield significant effects. SSL is a pivotal component in SEO.
Consider websites that frequently populate the internet and secure top rankings for keywords like “shopping” through the use of Extended Validation (EV) SSL. They serve as prime examples, highlighting the importance of SSL. However, it’s worth noting that even though these websites excel with SSL, they often remain silent about the success of their broader SEO and brand awareness endeavors.
Whether it’s EV SSL or Organization Validation (OV) SSL, using them has a positive impact on SEO. Nevertheless, achieving top rankings isn’t solely reliant on SSL usage. Successful websites need comprehensive support beyond SSL. It’s crucial to recognize that SSL is just one component in the intricate web of SEO.
For increased website traffic, obtaining SSL certificates is crucial. Visitors may perceive a site without SSL as insecure, leading to prompt exits.
Do SSL Certificates Affect Search Results?
SSL certificates significantly influence search results. As noted in the headings above, modern web browsers label sites without an SSL certificate as “unsafe.” Diminishing visitor trust and impeding your site’s likelihood of achieving high rankings in search results, lacking an SSL certificate could ultimately result in a decline in both traffic and search engine rankings.
SSL and HTTP/2: Exploring Their Connection
Let’s talk about HTTP, or better yet, call it “HTTP/1.x” to show its version, indicated by the “1.x” part. Now, we’re exploring how SSL connects with the second version of HTTP. HTTP/2 came about in 2012 and has been around since 2015. It was created to make websites load faster. Tests prove that sites using HTTP/2 are 20% to 30% quicker than those using the old HTTP protocol.
But why the speed boost? How do HTTP/2 sites outrun HTTP sites? Here’s the simple breakdown: Imagine any existing website. When you visit, elements like articles, images, and videos have different addresses. Instead of typing the page link, just the photo link gets you there. Unlike the HTTP/1 process, where each content type (image, video, audio, etc.) needs separate requests and logins, HTTP/2 streamlines everything through a single connection. There is no need to close sessions when leaving the page. If you want your site to be on HTTP/2, your server choice matters. Both your server and your visitor’s browser need to support HTTP/2. The good news is that most modern browsers do. To be sure, run tests on different pages. SSL isn’t a must for HTTP/2, but it’s supported. So, if you decide on SSL, know that HTTP/2 easily goes along with it.
How to Transition from HTTP to HTTPS?
To start using HTTPS, get an SSL certificate. Then, redirect all your pages to HTTPS to avoid duplicating previously created content. When implementing these redirects, ensure that each page directs to its corresponding HTTPS version instead of redirecting to the homepage. Utilize a 301 redirect for all links.
Make sure to update pages utilizing the Canonical tag with HTTPS links. Additionally, modify links to your website and image addresses to use the HTTPS protocol.
After you add HTTPS to your site’s address, set up a new Search Console account.
Avoid blocking pages that have been converted to HTTPS using the robots.txt file.
Lastly, update the links throughout your website to use the HTTPS protocol.
What Factors to Consider When Moving from HTTP to HTTPS?
When gearing up to install an SSL certificate for your website, it’s wise for users to engage with their hosting company to ensure a seamless SSL installation. This precautionary step helps steer clear of any potential harm to their sites.
To avert sudden drops in traffic during the switch to HTTPS, consider migrating only a few sections of your pages initially rather than making a full-scale transition. This incremental approach minimizes the impact on user experience.
Many existing sites are likely to have a canonical structure in place. To facilitate the transition, modify the structure that communicates your links to HTTPS, and subsequently, make adjustments to the Search Console settings. It’s crucial to maintain the HTTP structure for a while, refraining from deletion during this transitional period.
What Exactly is TLS?
In a nutshell, TLS (Transport Layer Security) is an encryption protocol that ensures secure communication within computer networks. TLS conducts authentication between computers and users using asymmetric passwords. Additionally, users engage in communication utilizing symmetric passwords that they share mutually. TLS finds application in numerous widely-used communication platforms prevalent in today’s landscape.
What Sets SSL and TLS Apart?
TLS initiates communication by sending an unsecured opening message to servers, and a connection can only occur if the server and the client perform a handshake. Once the handshake is successful, TLS establishes a secure connection. In contrast, SSL directly forms a secure connection between the client and the server, bypassing TLS.
In SSL, no acknowledgment is necessary if the client lacks an SSL certificate. However, if the client is without one, the TLS protocol sends a message stating “no certificate.”
How to Determine If a Website Has SSL Encryption?
Check for SSL encryption on a website using three methods. Start by adding “HTTPS” to the beginning of the website’s domain name. If you see the term “secure” at the top left corner of the address bar during your visit, it confirms the website’s reliability. Additionally, a green checkmark, instead of the word “secure,” signifies the website’s trustworthiness.
SSL utilizes MD5 and SHA, while TLS mainly uses MAC (H-MAAC). SSL uses Diffie-Hellman (or Fortezza/DMS) and RSA, whereas TLS utilizes H-MAC and PRF, as mentioned earlier. Authentication messages in SSL are transmitted in a more intricate manner, but TLS conveys them through a handshake.
SSL generates a “done” message and executes it similarly to key generation. In contrast, TLS uses PRF output and incorporates “done” messages from both the server and client.
SSL Inquiry Tool
Our SSL query tool detects SSL certificates on the websites you visit. It provides details about the certificate, including type, security level, and remaining expiration time.
Advantages of Using an SSL Certificate
Let’s explore the benefits of having an SSL certificate:
- Enhanced Security: SSL certificates secure both you and your visitors while browsing your site.
- Trustworthiness: Your site becomes more reliable, building trust with users and enhancing its reputation.
- Search Ranking Boost: SSL certificates improve your site’s visibility by appearing at the top of search results.
- Transaction Facilitation: Secure external transactions, like e-commerce, are made possible with an SSL certificate.
Differences Between Paid and Free SSL
Understanding the distinctions between paid and free SSL certificates is important:
- Ownership Details: Free SSL certificates lack comprehensive ownership details, unlike paid certificates that provide thorough explanations, including OV and EV certificates.
- Certificate Duration: Free SSL certificates typically last 30-90 days, while paid SSL certificates extend from 1 to 2 years.
- Customer Support: Providers of paid SSL certificates offer 24/7 support, a feature unavailable for free SSL certificates.
- Verification Process: Free SSL certificates validate domain ownership, while paid SSL certificates use a robust two-way verification process.
- Support Responsiveness: Issues with free SSL certificates may not receive substantial support from the Certificate Authority (CA). Conversely, paid SSL certificates come with dedicated and reliable customer support.
Security Concerns and Recommendations
Statistics indicate that websites using cracked software, reverse proxies, and unlicensed software face higher risks. Using unlicensed panels also has legal consequences. To safeguard your data, opt for original licensed software. Ensure the service provider can provide proof of using legitimate licenses. Your commitment to using genuine software significantly contributes to data security.