Sunday, January 29, 2023

What exactly is an SSL/TLS Certificate? Why is an SSL Certificate Required for Websites?

One of the most crucial aspects of online company is creating a trustworthy atmosphere in which potential clients may make purchases with confidence. SSL certificates create a secure connection, which is the foundation for trust. By creating an encrypted connection, SSL certificates build trust. To reassure visitors that their connection is safe, browsers display unique visual cues known as Extended Validation indicators, which can range from a green padlock to a branded URL bar. 

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SSL certificates enable websites to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS, which is more secure. The website’s origin server keeps a data file called an SSL certificate there. The public key and website identity are among the data that are included in SSL certificates, which also enable SSL/TLS encryption. Devices seeking to communicate with the origin server will consult this file in order to receive the public key and validate the server’s identity. The private key is kept confidential and secure.

SSL Secure, TLS Secure, SSL Certificate, TLS Certificate

What is an SSL also known as Secure Sockets Layer?

SSL is a standard security method that establishes an encrypted link between a server and a client—typically, a website and a browser, or a mail server and a mail client. 

SSL certificates contain a key pair consisting of a public and a private key. These keys collaborate to create an encrypted connection. The certificate also includes the “subject,” or the identity of the certificate/website owner.

SSL, also referred to as TLS (Transport Layer Security ), is a technology that secures server identity and encrypts Internet data. Any website with an HTTPS web address employs SSL/TLS.

SSL enables the safe transmission of sensitive information such as credit card details, social security numbers, and login credentials. Data exchanged between browsers and web servers is typically transferred in plain text, making you open to eavesdropping. An attacker can see and utilise information if they are able to intercept all data transmitted between a browser and a web server.

SSL, in particular, is a security protocol. Protocols specify how algorithms should be implemented. In this situation, the SSL protocol specifies encryption variables for both the link and the data being transferred.

All browsers can communicate with secured web servers via the SSL protocol. However, in order to establish a secure connection, both the browser and the server require what is known as an SSL Certificate.

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What information is contained in an SSL certificate?

SSL certificates contain the following:

  • The domain name of the website for which the certificate was issued
  • Which individual, organisation, or device received it?
  • Which certification body issued it?
  • The digital signature of the certificate authority
  • Subdomains that are related
  • The certificate’s issue date
  • The certificate’s expiration date
  • The open key (the private key is kept secret)

SSL’s public and private keys are essentially long sequences of characters that are used to encrypt and sign data. Data encrypted with the public key cannot be decrypted without the private key.


Why is an SSL certificate required for websites?

An SSL certificate is required for a website in order to safeguard user data, validate website ownership, prevent attackers from building a fake version of the site, and win user trust.

SSL/TLS encryption is possible due to the public-private key pairing that SSL certificates enable. Clients (such as web browsers) obtain the public key required to open a TLS connection from the SSL certificate of the server.

Authentication: SSL certificates ensure that a client is communicating with the correct server that owns the domain. This helps to ward off attacks of various kinds, such as domain spoofing.

HTTPS: An HTTPS web address requires an SSL certificate, which is crucial for businesses. HTTPS is the secure form of HTTP, and HTTPS websites use SSL/TLS to encrypt their traffic.

In addition to safeguarding user data in transit, HTTPS makes websites more trustworthy in the eyes of the user. Many people will not notice the difference between a http:// and a https:// web address, but most browsers flag HTTP sites as “not secure” in noticeable ways, in an attempt to provide an incentive to migrate to HTTPS and increase security.

SSL Not Secure, TLS Not Secure, SSL Certificate, TLS Certificate

How SSL certificate is acquired for a website?

You must first create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server in order to obtain a certificate. On your server, this process generates a private key and a public key. You provide the SSL Certificate issuer (also known as a Certificate Authority or CA) with the CSR data file, which contains the public key. The CA uses the CSR data file to generate a data structure that corresponds to your private key without exposing the key itself. The CA never sees the private key.

Domains must receive an SSL certificate from a certificate authority in order for it to be valid Certificate Authority. A third-party business called a CA is in charge of issuing and distributing SSL certificates. Client devices will be able to validate the certificate because it has also been digitally signed by the CA using their own private key. The majority of CAs, but not all, will charge a fee for granting an SSL certificate.

Once issued, the certificate must be installed and activated on the website’s origin server. Most web hosting firms can handle this for website owners. Once enabled on the origin server, the website can load over HTTPS, and all traffic to and from the website is encrypted and protected.

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How does the Secure Connection get created by the SSL Certificate?

A “SSL or TLS Handshake” is the process used by the browser and web server to establish an SSL or TLS connection when a user tries to access an SSL-secured website. It’s crucial to remember that the SSL Handshake happens in real time and is totally transparent to the user.

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The public, private, and session keys are used together to create an SSL connection. Anything encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted with the private key, and the reverse is true.

Because encrypting and decrypting with private and public keys requires a significant amount of computing power, they are only utilised to generate a symmetric session key during the SSL Handshake. After establishing a secure connection, the session key is used to encrypt all transferred data.

  • The browser connects to an SSL (https) secured web server (website). The browser asks the server to identify it.
  • The server delivers a copy of its SSL Certificate, which includes the public key.
  • The browser compares the certificate root to a list of trustworthy CAs and ensures that the certificate is not expired or revoked, and that its common name is valid for the website to which it is connecting. If the browser believes the certificate, it generates, encrypts, and returns a symmetric session key using the public key of the server.
  • To begin the encrypted session, the server decrypts the symmetric session key using its private key and sends back an acknowledgement encrypted with the session key.
  • The session key is now used to encrypt all transferred data by the server and browser.

What is the importance of a SSL certificate digitally signed by a trusted Certificate Authority?

The most critical aspect of an SSL certificate is that it is digitally signed by a trusted Certificate Authority. Anyone can create a certificate, but browsers will only accept certificates from organisations on their list of trusted CAs. The Trusted Root Certificate Authority store is pre-installed in browsers. To be included to the Trusted Root Certificate Authority repository and so become a Certificate Authority, an organisation must comply with and be audited against browser-established security and authentication requirements.

An SSL certificate issued by a Certificate Authority to an organisation and its domain/website certifies that the identity of that organisation has been confirmed by a trustworthy third party. Because the browser trusts the Certificate Authority, it now trusts the identity of that company as well. The browser informs the user that the website is secure, and the user can browse the site and even enter confidential information with confidence.

Sushma M.
Sushma M.
Sushma M. is an experienced digital marketer with vast knowledge in related domains such as SEO, SMO, PPC, Google Analytics, Google Search, and Content Marketing and runs her own blog Digital Sushma.

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