by Malay Shah
on Oct 9th, 2007

What are SSL Certificates?

SSL certificate is the short form of secure socket layer certificate. This technology is used widely in the Internet transactions to make them secure. Normally, this technology is used to encrypt important information between the web servers and the client’s web browser by establishing an encrypted and secure link. This helps in making the information of the transaction private and secure.

Millions of Internet transactions that happen everyday are using this technology to their advantage.

Netscape created SSL protocol. The protocol works in the following manner:

  1. First, web browser requests a secure page from the client side.
  2. If the website has SSL certificate, certificate will be sent along with its public key by the web server.
  3. After receiving the certificate, client side’s web browser checks for the validity of the certificate. Its checks whether certificate belongs to the site. If so is it still valid and has it been issued by a trusted party (This will be normally tested through a Certificate Authority (CA)). If it fails on any one of these checks the browser will display a warning to the end user letting them know that the site is not secured by SSL.
  4. Then the web browser uses its public key to encrypt the data. It then sends it to the web server with the encrypted URL required along with other encrypted http data.
  5. Decryption of the symmetric encrypted key will takes place at the web server. To decrypt, web server uses its private key. To decrypt the URL and http data, it uses the symmetric key.
  6. Along with the symmetric key the web server sends back the requested html document and http data in the encrypted form.
  7. Using the symmetric key, the web browser at the client side decrypts the http data and html document. Then web browser displays the information.

In this way, Secure Socket Layer protocol helps in making very secure Internet transactions.

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