Are you secured? The simplest terms about HTTPS and SSL.

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One of the most pressing issues of Internet currently is the question of security. If the customer is wondering how to protect their site from information leakage and to prevent the data stored on the server from being accessed by third parties, we, as the experienced web and mobile outsourcing company engaged in remote software development, recommend the use of the SSL-certificates and the HTTPS protocol.

What is SSL and why does one need it

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is an encryption protocol that enables secure transfer of information on the Internet. SSL is most often implemented through the HTTPS protocol. HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is a kind of wrapper for the regular HTTP protocol, which allows encrypting all the data transmitted between the user and the server.

Sites that work with e-money (e-commerce websites, for instance) frequently store their clients’ classified information. In addition to a password, it can be a passport number, credit card number, PIN, etc. Such information constitutes a great interest to criminals, so when the connection is made through the common HTTP protocol, the transmitted data may be intercepted and used for personal gain. To prevent interception of sensitive information companies Netscape and RSA has created the SSL protocol.

Any enterprise that cares about its reputation, employees and customers is obliged to pay due attention to the safety and security of personal data used in business. SSL comes to the rescue.

SSL-certificate

SSL protocol uses certificates to verify the connection. SSL-certificate helps to confirm that the site actually belongs to the specified entity (person or company), and contains information about the certificate holder, the domain for which the certificate was issued, and a reference to the certificate authority (CA), that issued this certificate.

There are three ways to get the SSL-certificate:

  • Ordering the certificate from a trusted CA;
  • Creating a self-signed certificate;
  • Creating an “empty” certificate.

Using a certificate from a certificate authority

Certificate authorities are organizations that are trusted by the entire industry and are engaged in issuing Internet certificates. For example, such a certificate can be ordered from the VeriSign company. To obtain a certificate signed by a CA, an entity must provide sufficient information, so that CA can verify his or her identity. Then CA will issue a new certificate, sign it and deliver it. All the popular Web-browsers are pre-configured to trust certificates issued by certain CAs, so no additional configuration is needed to connect the client via SSL to the server, for which the certificate was issued.

Using a self-signed certificate

A self-signed certificate is a certificate that is created by the user himself. When using such a certificate, issuer record matches the certificate holder. The beauty of this solution is that creating a self-signed certificate takes much less time and fuss than ordering a CA-signed certificate. However, self-signed certificate requires that any client connecting to the server via SSL would agree explicitly to trust such connection. Since the certificate was signed by the user, such a signature is not likely to be in the client’s list of trusted sources and must, therefore, be added there.

Using an “empty” certificate

This solution is no different in functionality from the previous ones. In general, the “empty” certificates contain dummy information and are used as a temporary solution to configure the SSL and test its functioning in a particular environment. Often they are generated and delivered by CAs along with a signed certificates for testing purposes.

Final thoughts

Today, one can use the Internet to transfer money, pay bills, buy goods, and it is clear that for these and many other operations users need to input the personal data that can be exploited by hackers. Therefore, for their safety, encryption of transferred information is mandatory.

If you already have a website but still haven’t employed the use of SSL-protocol, you might want to turn to one of the experienced software development companies or even freelance programmer for help.
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