What is SSL and Why is it Important to Have It?

What is SSL?

SSL (Security Socket Layer) is an internet security technology that makes the online data more secure. It establishes an encrypted link between internet browser and server to ensure the secure communication of information to the final destination. Websites that have an SSL standard are capable of keeping the transactions more secure. Thus, they succeed in gaining the interest of customers.

Importance of SSL and the Vulnerability of Websites

SSL is now the industry standard for the online security of websites. In order to understand the importance for websites to have an SSL certificate, we must understand what makes a website more vulnerable.

Interacting and communicating through cyberspace is easy, but has hidden challenges. Sharing useful information and data using the internet, always has the risk of security breaches. Any email, message, or a bit of communication passes through a plethora of different computers before it reaches its final destination. This means that many people have the ability to view that information, regardless of private or important it is.

Unencrypted details that we may send through web servers are very vulnerable to theft. Many individuals are capable of reading information that is not encrypted with a standard security lock. One has to bear in mind that communication between the sender and receiver involves many different channels. On the internet, information will always pass through a third-party, before it reaches its destination, as a result, the vulnerability is clear and present.

Having an SSL effectively locks sensitive information through encryption. It is now an industry standard, and makes data secure through an encryption link, as it passes from the browser to the server. In order to create a secure SSL connection, the web server will prompt the originator for its SSL certificate.

Obtaining an SSL certificate is a straightforward process. When websites opt to use SSL, they are required to answer questions from the authorities about their identity. Following this they will receive two cryptographic keys, one is a personal key, and the other a private one.

The next step is the Certificate Signing Request (CSR); this is where websites are required to place the public key, an easy task as there is no need to keep this key secret. A data file containing the details of the website is also required when submitting the CSR. Further on, the CSR authorities will validate (or not!) the information and details that were provided. The last step is when the web server matches the SSL certificate to the private key. Finally, once the whole process has been completed, and all the details match, the web server will allow the communication of encrypted information.

What are the benefits of encrypting data with SSL?

Websites need to pass sensitive information through them; these can include the passwords, debit/credit card details, usernames and other information that the users would want to be kept private. Should a website not have any SSL certification, this means that they cannot protect the data from potential threats. Systems and people that have access to the information during the “trip” from the web browser to web server are very likely to be able to see the information.

An SSL certificate allows the website to encrypt the sensitive data. As a result, no one would be able to see them as they are on their way to the target destination.

Users have the ability to see whether a website is secured with SSL certification or not, through the appearance of a green padlock — in the top bar of the browser. They cannot see the entire encryption process, but the presence of the lock in the URL bar is enough to make them feel that their data is secure.

Which website must use SSL?

Every single website that deals with sensitive information should have an SSL certificate. The need is more present, however, for e-commerce websites. Online platforms that run businesses deal in commodity trading or service providing all require the use of credit card and debit card information. Should a customer feel that entering their data on this particular e-commerce website could be a risk for them, they would never use that website and would go to the competition, who have secured their site.

Necessity of SSL secured websites in emerging e-commerce markets

In Arab countries, especially in Oman, there is a huge potential for the growth of e-commerce. Growing businesses need to make sure that they have a secure online presence. Even if their websites don’t require sensitive information to operate, such as credit card details, there remains the need to be secure. Customers, upon not seeing the security indicator on the top bar of the browser, would rather use a website that is secure, than to continue on this risky platform.

Oman, home to 4.4 million people, has had the huge propagation of internet technology, yet e-commerce is still in its nascent years. Businesses need to understand that providing users with useful information through online portals is no longer sufficient. They should start to focus on offering their clients/customers a safe and secure experience on their platform, by complying and using industry standards. Through this compliance, they can ensure that they are at the forefront of e-commerce, and more efficiently propagate internet technology.

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