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What is SSL certificate?

SSL certificates are small data files that digitally connect with cryptographic key to details of an organization. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and HTTPS protocol and enables secure connections from the web server to the browser. Normally, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data and logins, and soon became the norm in the security of browsing social media sites.

How does an SSL certificate work?

When the browser tries to access a website that is protected with SSL, the browser and Web server to establish an SSL connection using a process called “SSL handshake” (see chart below). Note that the SSL handshake is invisible to the user and happens instantaneously.

Essentially, the three keys are used to create an SSL connection: public, private and session keys. All encrypted with the public key can be decrypted only with private key, and vice versa.

Because encryption and decryption with private and public key takes a lot of processing power, they are used only during the SSL handshake to symmetric session key. Once the secure connection is achieved, session keys used for encryption of all transmitted data. After making a secure connection, access key is used to encrypt all transmitted data.

1. The browser connects to the Web server (site) protected with SSL (HTTPS). The browser requires the server to be identified.

2. The server sends a copy of the SSL certificate, including your public key.

3. The browser verifies the certificate from the list of trusted companies issuing certificates and that the certificate is not yet expired, canceled, and its common name is valid for the website you are connecting. If the browser trust the certificate it creates, encrypts and sends back a symmetric session key using the public key of the server.

4. The server decrypts the symmetric session key using its private key and sends back a confirmation encrypted with a session key to start an encrypted session.

5. The server and browser already encrypt all data transmitted between your key to the session.

Why do I need an SSL certificate?

SSL certificates protect your sensitive information such as credit card information, usernames, passwords, data, etc.


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