One of the things that you need to decide on, especially in purchasing an SSL certificate, is the level of security that you wanted to have for your website. SSL or known as Secure Sockets Layer is a kind of digital certificate that protects the information being sent from one end of a server to another. By encrypting data and turning it into a code of characters, which can only be deciphered by a key being sent to a server, hackers will not be able to use the data as it is taken during transport. The levels of security are 40-bits, 56-bits, 128-bits, and 256-bits, being the highest. Due to the nature of risk that is seen in data exchange, most businesses purchase SSL certificates with 128 bits, being a standard these days. However, what do website owners get when paying something extra for twice the security performance if they find 128 bits as more than okay?
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What is a bit?
A bit is a piece of information, which is usually represented by a number. That only means 40 bits, mean 40 characters. However, if you will use this aspect in changing strings, or letters, into codes with such small parameter, then it may be easy to decode after it has been taken from the information exchange from one end of the server to the other. Now that some hackers are able to crack some 128-bit encrypted data, 40 bits is just a piece of cake these days, especially that modern computers are able to process data in large values, making it easy to find the code and have it deciphered. With this case, Certificate Authorities are developing more means to protect information by enlarging the range of bits for specialized encryption, which private keys can only decode.
What encryption does to data is that every letter or number being entered into a form is being changed to a set of numbers, letters, or symbols, which cannot be comprehended by simple human analogy. Once changed, the only thing that can use this data will be the other end of a server, which has the private key to have the processed data changed into actual human values that the user has entered.
Is 256-bit encryption really better than 128-bit encryption?
To understand the difference between the two, comparing 128 bits from 40 bits would show the disparity between the two. 128-bit encryption is higher with 88 bits from 40. With this simple thought, the codes to be used, including variation of characters, regardless of representation, will create 288 more combinations, or 309,485,009,821,345,068,724,781,056 combinations, which is already crazy enough to break. This comparison will show the larger gap of security that can be received with 256-bit SSL certificates, which numbers will no longer be stated due to ridiculous length. Both security levels are using AES or Advanced Encryption Standards, which uses a special kind of algorithm.
As this information is considered, SSL certificates that have 128-bit level security are more than enough to protect information being sent from a website. Nevertheless, just as security is strengthened, hackers are also formulating ways to catch up with the trend and scrutinize how characters are to be cracked with a lesser margin for error. Due to this possible threat, most companies that have the financial resources turn to 256-bit encryption to assure customers that there is no way for their information to be taken away. Nonetheless, most online business owners are confident that 128-bit security levels are sufficient to protect them for more than 8 to 10 years time.
Money wise, 128-bit SSL certificates are more than fit for the budget, with no point of compromise, whatsoever. You may just shift to a higher plane if you think that more customers will flock to the business when the bar for encryption will be raised, and if you have the dough to do so. There may be free SSL certificates that may have 40 or 56 bit encryption, but knowing that taking risks will not be in favor for you, for your business, or for your customers. After all, security is a worthy investment, which can prove to be profitable later on.