In computer technology and networking, what is an SSL Certificate is a type of digital signature that is generated by an SSL-enabled website. In cryptography, a digital private key, also called an SSL certificate or id certificate, is a short, usually 16-bit, digital document used to show the authenticity of a private key. In this way, anyone who needs to verify whether a given server is genuine can do so by checking the digital signature. This id certificate allows clients to see the digital signature instead of the physical key. SSL certificates are used both by web servers and clients to ensure authenticity and integrity of communications between the two parties.
There are different purposes for which you may want to use an SSL Certificate. One of these is making secured personal information transfers easy and safe. Digital certificates allow users to authenticate the identity of websites they connect to and make transactions with them. SSL provides a standardized set of encryption methods. This means that one can generate an SSL certificate that is strong enough to protect sensitive information but also vulnerable to attacks from unscrupulous parties.
As mentioned earlier, SSL works on top of an existing encryption scheme called Digital Signature. It is therefore very important to make sure that your website is using the right encryption method in order to avoid misuse of the protection offered. Most of the well-known browsers now support this as an encryption method. Even if your personal browser does not support this yet, you can get SSL certificates by downloading free scripts that generate certificates for you.
When you request an SSL certificate, you are requesting a secondary encryption, or SSL padding, be inserted in between the SSL Certificate and your sensitive information. This additional layer of encryption adds a layer of security to your information. Aside from the added security, an SSL certificate also provides a layer of authentication so that you are sure that the information you transmitted to a server is only being sent to you (and nobody else). Without this security added on, your information would just be read right away by anybody with access to the internet.
Some web browsers provide the facility of self-issued SSL certificates. These self-issued certificates may be stronger than those provided by commercial organizations. If you have a business that sells its products online, you can issue your own SSL certificates so that customers can verify that you are a reputable company. Self-issued SSL certificates are good for business purposes when you want to provide assurance to customers that you are not trying to fleece them. For instance, you may issue different SSL certificates with different expiration dates so that your customers will know that you renew your SSL certificate on a regular basis.
Apart from self-issued SSL certificates, you may also obtain an SSL certificate from a third party provider. The major advantage of obtaining an SSL certificate from a third party is that they manage the process of getting your SSL certificate to work with various browsers. They also check that your use provider is up to date and not vulnerable to attacks. The major disadvantage of obtaining an SSL certificate from a third-party provider is that they may charge you an exorbitant amount to do so. If you need additional layer of security, you might want to consider getting yourself a SSL certificate from a website that offers it as a service.
There are numerous benefits associated with an SSL certificate. Apart from enhancing the security of your website, it also makes the transfer of information between your web server and your clients fast. A well-established SSL Certificate Service provider will ensure that your web browser can make secure transactions without any risk. In addition, such service providers will also ensure that your web server stays up to date and does not experience any downtime.
Many companies prefer self-signed SSL certificates for the simple reason that signing up for such certificates takes very little time. On the other hand, when you have managed to get yourself a well-established SSL Certificate Service provider, you can be assured that your website will also be safe because you are dealing with top-notch encryption methods. Although self-signed certificates provide great protection, it is advisable to opt for a SSL Certificate when you feel that you do not need full coverage of encryption because you are dealing with a small-scale business. Self-signed certificates do not last long and once you lose the private key that is used for the encryption, you would not be able to access the security features of your website again.