August 18, 2021

What is SSL Certificate and how it works

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SSL Certificate secures the connection between a client and the server, important to keep financial information and login data safe.
SSL Certificate

If you are well-acquainted with the internet, you might have seen the prefixes like “http” or “https” with every URL you search. If a website is SSL-certified, you will see ‘https’ before its URL. And if it is not, “http” will be there. Now, What is SSL certificate? How does SSL certificate work? Let’s get into the detail.

What is SSL Certificate

SSL certificate
SSL certificate verifies an organization’s web details and makes encryption possible between the end-user and the server.

SSL is important to keep your username/password, financial transactions, and messaging through a site safe. 

To know more about SSL, you need to learn about the two terms – HTTP and HTTPS.

HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol

HTTP is the protocol used for viewing web pages on the internet. When you write down some information to the website with ‘HTTP’ in their URL, those are transferred as clear text into public internet before reaching the specific web server.

From your personal details to bank account details, hackers may access everything you put on that website.

HTTPS – Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

Considering the plain text information transfer security hazard in HTTP, HTTPS was developed. It is a secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It ensures that all data transferred from the computers to the web server are protected with a specific encryption algorithm.

It prevents the data from being hacked by any third party in the middle of the transfer. The data you entered on the website is transferred across the internet in an unmovable form instead of clear text. So, even if someone gets the details, they cannot crack the encrypted information.

To ensure if a website is secure or not, check the URL address. For secure websites, you will see a padlock sign and the tag of ‘https’ at the very left of the address. 

site ssl

HTTPS is developed with the help of SSL certificate. Let’s know how it works.  

How SSL Certificate works

When you open a website with SSL encryption, the web browser in your computer requests the webserver to identify itself. Then, the server sends a copy of its SSL certificate along with its public key. 

SSL certificate is a digital certificate signed by a third party authority called Certificate Authority. Whether you use Chrome or Firefox, a list of different public keys of CA is already in it. Once the browser receives the copy, it checks the digital signature in it. The browser verifies the signature matching it with available public keys. Once verified, the padlock sign appears at the left of the website’s URL address. And the web browser then creates a pair of symmetric keys or shared secrets. One copy of the key encrypted with the web server’s public key is sent to the webserver. The web server opens it using its private key. 

Now, the client and the webserver both have the shared key, and all of the verification is done. So, the data transferred from the client’s browser to the webserver is secure and encrypted. 

That is how SSL works. 

The successor to SSL is TLS, which is more advanced and more secure.

Let me remind you that ‘https’ tag and the padlock only protect the data transferred. It does not guarantee the safety of the website itself. So, if you want to share any sensitive information, rely on websites with a good reputation only. 

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