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What is SSL?

Last updated: 14/01/2016

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and its successor TLS (Transport Layer Security) are security protocols that allow a secure connection between two computers that connect through a network, like Internet. The connection is automatically initiated by both computers that negotiate by using a security protocol they both share without the end user having to intervene. Once the connection is made, all exchanged data will be encrypted and will be decrypted at the receiver.

Communication on the Internet is insecure, since the trajectory that data follows is not known beforehand and passes over switches, routers and servers that may intercept and read information. SSL is one of the technologies that allows to exchange data over the Internet in a secure way, since data becomes unreadable, except for the receiver, and is the technology that is widely used for exchange of confidential information between browser, enduser and a website.

Unsecure sites use the HTTP protocol, and have an Internet address starting with « http:// ». Websites that use an SSL-connection work with the HTTPS protocol, and have a web address starting with « https:// ». Aside that the security of the website is also displayed with a lock icon in the address bar of the web browser.

HTTP is vulnerable for espionage and is insecure, since confidential data such as creditcard information, logins and passwords can be captured. E-commerce websites, applications for Internet banking and every application that requires entering user data need to rely on the SSL and HTTPS protocol by preference! The SSL connection offers the following advantages:

  • Exchanged data can only be read by the receiver.
  • Data can not be altered while being sent, so a hacker can not change the amount and destination of a payment.
  • The identity of the website and owner will be garanteed.

To secure your website with SSL, you require a digital file known as an SSL certificate, on your webserver. More information on this topic in the article « What is an SSL certificate? ».