From the many large companies who were attacked by hackers to the release of hundreds of private celebrity photos, various incidents of cybercrime have dominated the headlines in 2014. With so many attacks this year alone, security is becoming an increased concern for companies across the board. One of the most secure data delivery methods that companies can use to protect sensitive information is SSL. For those who are unfamiliar with Internet security systems, they are probably wondering, what is SSL? To understand how it works, it is important to first understand the components that make SSL successful.
Understanding Digital Certificates
Digital certificates are used to identify users on a network to determine if they have permission to access certain information. Much like a passport is used by other countries to verify the identity of a foreign visitor, digital certificates are used by Internet users to verify that they are an authorized user. Digital certificates rely on encryption to provide secure file transfer services between a client and a server. What is encryption? Encryption converts data written in plaintext to a non-readable format that can only be deciphered with a special key. Symmetric encryption is the most common type, but in the case of digital certificates, asymmetric encryption is used with a public and private key to protect the identity of the user and communications over the network.
What is SSL?
SSL, or secure sockets layer, is a standard protocol used to secure online communications and transactions. SSL relies on digital certificates to create a secure stream through which information can be transferred between a client and a server. A client can access the server’s digital certificate in order to gain access to its public encryption key, allowing the client to encrypt sensitive data before sending it to the server. The server then uses its private key to decrypt the information sent over from the client. SSL is able to instantly detect any strange behavior over the connection and immediately alerts both parties when the system is being tampered with.
As security becomes a greater concern for all companies, knowing how to protect private data from a security breach is more important than ever before. SSL provides a safe network connection to keep information safe and can give both companies and their customers a little more peace of mind.