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What is SSL

What is SSL and how it works?

It’s no doubt technology has been growing at a tremendous speed since the invention of the internet. You might notice while visiting any banking site such as HDFC or SBI, you always more conscious about security. You do not want any third party steal your money while you transfer online.

This assurance comes true when you see a padlock icon on banking sites next to the URL of the browser’s address bar. It is nothing but an SSL/TLS. But have you ever wondered what does actually it mean for you?

HDFC bank SSL badge

In today’s article we will tell you its basic definition, some FAQ’s, benefits of SSL/TLS and HTTPS.

Outline of this post:

  • What is SSL/TLS?
  • What is HTTPS?
  • How does SSL/TLS work?
  • What are the benefits of using SSL?
  • Does SSL/TLS make an impact on SEO?
  • What is an SSL certificate?
  • Where can you get an SSL/TLS certificate for your WordPress website?
  • How to install SSL/TLS certificate on your WordPress website?
  • Final thoughts

What is SSL/TLS?  

The goal of SSL/TLS is to make it safe and secure to transmit sensitive information including personal data, payment or login information.

SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer”, and is a standard technology behind establishing an encrypted connection between a web server (host) and a web browser (client) to ensure the secure communication of information to the final destination.

It was first developed by Netscape in 1995 for the purpose of ensuring privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications.

SSL is the predecessor to the modern TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption used today. TLS is just an updated, more secure, version of SSL (although both methods are still commonly referred to as SSL).

What is HTTPS?   

HTTPS is an abbreviation of “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure”. It appears in the URL when a website is secured by SSL/TLS certificate, including the issuing authority and the corporate name of the website owner.

SSL on Microsoft site

How does SSL/TLS work?   

How does SSL/TLS work

SSL/TLS works by having both a private and a public key, as well as session keys for every unique secure session. When a visitor enters an SSL-secured address into their web browser or navigates through to a secure page, the browser and the web server make a connection.

During the initial connection, the public and private keys will be used to create a session key, which will then be used to encrypt and decrypt the data that’s being transferred. This session key will remain valid for a limited time and only be used for that particular session.

For example when you visit a website which is encrypted with SSL, the browser will first request the web server identity itself. This prompts the web server to send the browser a copy of the SSL certificate.

The browser checks to see if the SSL certificate is trusted (This is known as the SSL handshake) – if the SSL certificate is trusted, then the browser sends a message to the web server.

The server then responds to the browser with a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an SSL encrypted session. The browser displays a padlock icon in the URL, indicating the website is secure and can be communicated with.

This allows encrypted data to be shared between the browser and the web server. You may notice that your browsing session now starts with https. Further communication between the browser and the site is encrypted.

Information passed between the two parties can only be deciphered by the two parties involved. Hackers will not be able to decode any information passed between the two entities.

What are the benefits of using SSL?

  • Built trust with your visitors
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Preventing any intruder from reading the information transferred.
  • Avoiding misuse of vital information like credit card numbers, financial information, addresses and names
  • Safeguarding sensitive data being transferred between browser and web server

Does SSL/TLS make an impact on SEO?

The short answer is: yes it does.

In practical terms, SSL makes a small difference when it comes to SEO and simply installing an SSL certificate to your website will make much less of a difference than creating regular fresh content and building a strong inbound link profile. That doesn’t mean that you should forget all about them, though.

Setting up an SSL certificate will have an effect on your website’s search engine performance, but that’s not why you should use one. Instead, set up an SSL certificate to engender trust amongst your visitors and take the SEO boost as a bonus.

What is an SSL certificate?

The SSL/TLS protocol requires an authentication from both end like web server and the browser to secure a connection. This is where the SSL certificate comes in.

The SSL certificate is issued by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA). It helps to ensure that you are dealing with the right website or person through a secured connection.

SSL/TLS certificate includes the following information:

SSL Certificate
  • Issued to
  • Issued by
  • Start date
  • Expire date
  • Domain name
  • Certificate authority name

How SSL/TLS relates to HTTPS?

When you set up an SSL certificate, you configure it to transmit data using HTTPS. The two technologies go hand in hand and you can not use one without the other.

Where can you get an SSL/TLS certificate for your WordPress website?

SSL certificates can be purchased from Certificate Authorities (CA). An SSL certificate will only be recognized by internet browsers and mobile devices if it is signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA).

Few notable Certificate Authority (CA) are Digicert, GeoTrust, Thawte, RapidSSL, Comodo, GlobalSign, Let’s encrypt etc.

How to install SSL/TLS certificate on your WordPress website?

You have two different options when it comes to install an SSL/TLS certificate on your WordPress website and they are:

  • Install a free SSL/TLS certificate
  • Install a custom SSL/TLS certificate

In our previous post we have written step by step guide to install a free SSL/TLS certificate from Let’s Encrypt on WordPress, if you are interested then you can read it from here:

How to install Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS certificate on WordPress website

Let’s Encrypt is a Certificate Authority (CA) that gives free certificates for SSL/TLS encryption through an automated procedure. Many companies like Google, Automattic, Mozilla have come together to support Let’s Encrypt to increase an overall security level on the Internet.

Second way to install an SSL/TLS certificate by purchasing it from your hosting provider or obtain it from reputable Certificate Authority (CA) and then install it via cPanel.

Conclusion

Now we are end of this article and its time to wrap up. SSL/TLS certifications are extremely important for anyone who runs a website. Not only can they give you a ratings boost in Google’s search rankings, but they can make your visitors feel more secure as they use your website.

You will get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that any sensitive information that is transmitted to and from your website is secure and safe from data breaches and identity theft. If you like this article then you can put your thoughts under comment section.

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Sunil Pradhan

Sunil is a front-end developer, illustrator and an online entrepreneur. He is the founder of "Hello Sunil" where he shares his love of technology with the world. He loves to write technical how-tos and tutorials. He is open minded and willing to explore beyond his knowledge.

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