There are many things to cover when discussing and defining what Secure Sockets Layer really is. A few of these things have something to do with a more detailed explanation of what an SSL certificate is, and what it can do for the site of an online website owner. There are also various types of certificates depending on the level of security and other features that rely on the Certificate Authorities. You can also know where to purchase SSL certificates and getting the right one that fits your needs.
SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is a security protocol that was designed by Netscape to address the needs of security in the transferring of information from one end of the server to another. These days where online information safety is a concern, most SSL and TSL certificates are now being used by most online shops, banks, and other sites that require sensitive information from other users. Even though the system may be as simple as decoding and encoding, the complexities of it are beyond a few words. In a commoner’s standpoint, SSL can be seen as the http:// turning into https://, EV SSL turning address bars to green, and lock icons popping at the side of the URL.
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SSL began its development from version 1.0, but it was not released to the public due to security reasons. Nevertheless, version 2.0 was released for online use in 1995, but was quickly updated to version 3.0 in 1996 due to flaws that were found on the previous version. From SSL, the system of development was changed to TSL or Transport Layer Security, which is also identified as higher SSL versions due to the similarity of the task it complies when it comes with protecting data upon transport to another server. TSL 1.0, which was released in January 1999, was known as SSL 3.1. Although the naming may be quite understandable, TLS was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force and not Netscape. TLS 1.1 was made in April 2006 and was named SSL 3.2, while TLS 1.2 in August 2008 as SSL 3.3.
Both systems are actually using the same process of distorting actual data into encrypted sets of characters that are of no use to hackers. This system is called Public-Key Encryption or Public Key Cryptography (PKC). This is the process where private and public keys, with matching details, are sent on both ends of the server to alter data upon transmission, and decoding data back into raw information upon receipt. Certificates are used to make the cryptography system safer and more secure.
SSL certificates are being sold by Certificate Authorities, which also authenticates data about the domain name, main computer details, and company or owner information. Some of these famous companies are VeriSign, Thawte, GeoTrust, and GoDaddy (See – Go Daddy SSL review and Verisign SSL review) and they operate through resellers because SSL certificates may be free, dedicated, and shared. Dedicated SSL certificates are more secured and more personalized because owners can fully customize it according to the specifications of a server. Wildcard SSL certificates are also available, which is suitable for sites that have many sub domains, since this covers everything.
Aside from the level of security found in SSL certificates, other authentication processes are also done such as matching SSL details with open WHOIS databases and also with Extended Validation, which presents company info and other details via the green address bar.