What is an SSL Certificate and What Does it Do?

When you buy your Christmas gifts online why do some sites show a padlock in the address bar and others don’t?

A padlock icon confirms that the website has an SSL certificate installed. It offers customers a secure shopping experience. And the peace of mind that their data is safe.

But what exactly is an SSL certificate and what does it do?

This article explains how Internet security works and what you need to look for before submitting your personal details.

Read on to learn all about SSL including how much it costs, how it’s implemented, and why it’s essential.

What Does SSL Mean?

Did you know that 32.6% of websites don’t offer a secure experience?

That means when you submit your credit card details on a non-secure site anyone can intercept and steal them. Hackers love sites like these as they’re easy pickings for identity theft and fraud.

Yet all it takes is for the site owner to add an SSL certificate to make their site secure.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a way to safely encrypt information as it passes from one computer to another via the Internet.

SSL Certificate Origins

SSL’s origins go back 25 years when Netscape developed a way to authenticate users. The protocol also checked if data was legitimate and ensured continual privacy.

The certificate part relates to data files that act as a digital key.

These files belong to a particular website or organization and mark them as their owner. Browsers can check that the SSL certificate belongs to the site by clicking on the padlock icon.

Today, a new method of security called Transport Layer Security or TLS has replaced SSL.

The Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF introduced the change in 1999. It updated all aspects of SSL and made it more secure.

The most recent version is TLS 1.3. However, 68% of websites still use the old protocol of TLS 1.0.

Recognizing Sites With SSL Certificates

You might have noticed that some sites start with http:// while others use https://

It might not look like much but the s stands for secure. It’s the difference between people with the right know-how being able to access your data and if you remain safe.

You’ll also see a small padlock symbol.

If the site’s secure then the padlock’s locked. If it isn’t, the padlock remains open.

Buy With Confidence This Christmas

Search your webpages securely this Christmas by making sure to check the site’s security.

All it takes is a brief glimpse at your browser’s address bar. If the padlock’s locked you’re ready to order your Christmas stocking stuffers.

But if it isn’t then shop elsewhere.

Don’t take the risk of ordering on an unsecured site. You don’t want to receive a credit card bill in the January post for something you didn’t buy.