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Is an SSL Certificate Required for Website Security?

December 4, 2017


Website security is a major aspect of web functionality that website owners and web designers have to handle. While having safety measures in place that secures the web pages of an online platform may not be necessary for websites that do not require users’ information for any kind of transaction, it does give web visitors peace of mind when they enter websites that have some form of security setup embedded within. The basic security tool employed by most websites that carry out a wide range of transactions with their web users is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).   

What is Secure Socket Layer (SSL)?

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SSL is a technology that is standard and used for creating an encrypted link between a browser and the web server. A backbone for secured internet connection, it basically helps protect users’ information as they travel across global computer networks. It doesn’t only provide security but also facilitates the masked integration of data conveyed from the user’s computer to the website’s server.

The competent functioning of an embedded SSL tool raises the integrity of the website by tremendous folds, and basically gives consumers confidence in the site they are visiting.

Why is Secure Socket Layer used?

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It is one thing to know the use of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) but another to understand the reason for its use and the implications involved. The principal purpose for the utilization of SSL is to guarantee confidentiality when a user accesses the components of a website either for registration or procurements. What this simply means is that this safety mechanism is used to encrypt whatever information (which is usually sensitive) that is being sent from an internet user’s computer to the designated recipient’s server; and this ensures that no third party will be able to have access to it.

One needs to understand that websites with default security measures are basically open to any kind of manipulation from an outside source. This is because information sent across the internet is usually passed from system to system until it reaches its final destination server. With such lapse in the infrastructural background of the internet, any computer that is within the server and the internet user can basically have access to the information being conveyed.

It is not unusual for accounts of forums and blogs to be breached all because of the visibility of the network connections between their users and the servers. And that is why SSL is very important in masking the information that is sent across computer networks…from a user to the base server of the website.

So basically is can be said that SSL simply makes the private information of internet users unreadable to outside sources.

Secure Socket Layer, which is offered as an  add on with some php hosting packages,  has been very useful in protecting many websites and their numerous users from the scourges of hackers and internet theft.  The use of SSL ensures that sensitive information sent from a merchant website to an intended buyer gets to that intended buyer alone as information sent over the Internet usually travels through several computers before it gets to the destination server.  It is very pertinent, however, to ponder if it is entirely fail-proof.

How is SSL Setup?

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After a website is completed, and the owner wishes to setup SSL for the security of the site, the process can be accomplished by simply obtaining what is called a certificate. This is mostly done via the website hosting company, although there are trusted CAs (Certificate Authority) that specializes in internet niches like this. After registering for the SSL certificate, one is issued bearing the domain name of the owner’s website.

The symbol of an SSL certification, which can be seen beside the address bar, is the image of a padlock…basically signalling the security of the web page being visited.

So when an internet user enters the URL of a website that has SSL certification into a browser, the connection process that succeeds urges the website to tender this certificate to the internet user. The internet user’s browser simply then ascertains the authenticity of the website’s certificate by confirming if the domain name on the certificate is the same as that in the address bar of the browser.

Apart from secure connection what else can SSL do?

When a web user connects with the server of a website that has SSL certification, he or she can be guaranteed that the connection that has been established with the website’s server is as secured as it can get. Basically there is no external party or unknown entity capable of tampering with such connection, or obtaining access to sensitive information.

It is, however, naive to conclude that SSL certification is all a website needs to guarantee the security of its components and its users’ details. Just because the data being exchanged by the client side of the network and the server side is encrypted to protect it from prying eyes doesn’t mean there isn’t a backdoor to access such encrypted information.

One of the strengths of SSL certification, which is that it can be issued to any website, may in fact be its main flaw that leaves it open to exploitation by unruly entities. Because receiving SSL certification is an easy process that can be done even when the just completed website is being hosted, there isn’t any form of regulation monitoring the websites being issued the certificates.

With such a gaping lapse present, internet hackers can create a website that feigns ingenuity, and obtain a SSL certificate that will be used to mask the operations of the website thus exposing a multitude of web visitors to theft and internet fraud. SSL simply faces the same debacle being suffered by various other innovative creations that have been exploited to carry out despicable acts.

This, however, doesn’t mean that this creative tool should be discarded as it still remains the easiest means of guaranteeing the security of a website. It does certainly need modification to ensure that its performance is optimum and that the internet will become safer as a result of it.      

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