Internet security is no joke, and if you are making transactions over the internet with your credit card — as pretty much all of us are — you need to be aware of something called SSL, especially if you are selling items or services over the internet, but also as a consumer.
So what is SSL?
SSL stands for Secured Sockets Layer. It is the technology protocol that provides an encrypted link between a server and a browser. This encryption ensures that your sensitive data, such as passwords, private information or credit card numbers, are not intercepted and remain private, and the data keeps its integrity. You can tell that a website has SSL if you see that the letters https are in the browser in the address bar. The address bar should also turn green, and a padlock icon will appear in the right hand side of the address bar.
In order to create an SSL encrypted link between server and browser, you must have an SSL certificate. SSL certificates create two keys, a public key and a private key. These keys work in tandem to make the encrypted connection. The SSL certificate also contains data that provides the identity of the website owner, so it authenticates the owner. You want to know that you are actually sending your credit card payment to Amazon and not some hacker. The SSL certificate provides this authentication. The certificate is issued by a Certificate Authority (CA).
Who exactly needs an SSL certificate? According to Verisign, Inc., organizations or individuals who are using websites to process, collect, display, capture, or maintain sensitive data such as passwords, financial information, medical information, personal data, company secrets, or client lists. There are different levels of SSL certificates.
Where do you purchase SSL certificates? According to W3 Techs, the top five SSL Certificate Authorities by market share in 2015 were: