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Help Desk: What You Need to Know About SSL Certificates

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Often, it can be overwhelming to get your business online, as the amount of choices at your disposal are numerous… hosting, website design, SEO… to name just a few. Not only do you need a functioning website that can be found by your customers, but you have to consider your ecommerce requirements if you are going to sell your products and services to those customers online.

We at The Small Business Authority understand that and want to help educate you on all the online options available to you here that can help your business increase revenue, reduce expenses, and minimize risk. This blog will explore a different subject each week and also point to helpful articles in our comprehensive Knowledge Base that can help further enhance your online comprehension.

This week, our topic is Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates, which protects your customers’ data and ensures that online transactions on your website are secure. Netscape, who at one time offered one of the most popular browsers in the world, actually developed SSL, a security protocol that allows Internet users to communicate online in a secure fashion. SSL allows the transfer of sensitive information online by encrypting and decrypting the data that transfers between web servers and Internet browsers as it travels across the Internet.

You’ll know that you are using a website with SSL certification if you see a ‘s’ after the ‘http’ in the URL address of your browser (https://www.YourDomain.com). A green address bar and a small padlock icon can also appear in the address field of your browser that you can click on to find out detailed information (encryption rate, issuing company, expiration date, etc.) about the site’s SSL certificate.

A quick technical overview of how SSL works: a visitor types in your URL or clicks on a link to a page on your website or online store that utilizes SSL protection. Their web browser requests a secure session from the server where your website data is stored, and the server responds by sending a digital copy of your SSL certificate.

The browser then verifies that your certificate is valid, was issued for your website, and was provided by a Certificate Authority that the browser trusts. A Certificate Authority is a third-party company (i.e. (Trustwave, GeoTrust, Verisign ) that verifies your site ownership and issues your SSL certificate. Then, a session key is created, encrypted, and decrypted (a back and forth between the web server and the end-user’s browser), and a secure connection is established between the user and your website.

Phew! This process actually occurs in just milliseconds for a seamless, safe, and secure experience for visitors at your website. Thus, a SSL certificate is a must-have if you are going to sell anything online or collect customer information at your website. Without SSL, data transferred to and from your site can be compromised and available to hijacking and theft. With it, your customers will know that you’ve ensured that their personal information, credit card numbers, account numbers, and passwords are safe from interception.

The process of ordering a SSL certificate for your website can be complicated. However, we have automated the process in our Secure Socket Layer so you can quickly and easily have SSL certification that protects valuable sales transactions and customer data on your website.

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