What Is SSL And How Can I Use It?

SSL. what is it, and how can I use it?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.


What Is SSL?

What this means, in plain English, is that when your browser connects to a server (which is connected to the internet) the transfer of data between your browser and that server will be encrypted.

The data is encrypted in case anyone is  intercepting the data transfer – if they are, they won’t be able to read it.

So whilst a hacker may intercept the data transfer they won’t be able to read the data because it will look like gibberish to them.

Using SSL

There are a few requirements if you are to use SSL.

Perhaps the most obvious of these requirements is that your internet browser must be able to handle SSL communications.

In this day and age that isn’t typically a problem, especially if you are using one of the popular browsers that the majority of users have.

The second requirement is that the server must be set up with a certificate which allows SSL communications.

This SSL certificate is set up by the person who owns the web site.

SSL encryption currently comes in two flavours – 56-bit encryption and 128-bit encryption where the higher the number the better the encryption is.

Getting A SSL Certificate

If you have your own website, where can you get a SSL certificate?

Well, there are many ways of getting one.

Firstly, you can just create your own certificate.

Theres nothing wrong with doing  this but, in doing so, when a person visits the web site they may get a warning that the certificate isn’t trusted.

This would be because it had been created by the web site owner, not through one of the commercial entities which provides certificates.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


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