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SSL certification: How authentication helps secure and improve e-commerce / e-business

Essential for e-commerce:

SSL – Secure Socket Layer – is absolutely essential for any website collecting sensitive information online. On your computer, you can see it as the little padlock in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser, when you send or collect information online.

If you go to an unsecured website, you transmit information over many computers and networks, practically inviting hackers to steal this information – like passwords and credit card information. Obviously, that's not something you want to fall prey to. SSL ensures that this does not happen.

SSL ensures safe transactions:

To make sure that no hacker can intercept and misuse information being collected online, SSL does two things:

  • Encrypts it with a hidden key on the user's computer before the information is sent out;
  • Sends the key to the receiving computer using another encryption system called RSA. With this key the information collected online can be decoded.
  • A 128-bit public encryption key and a 1024-bit private RSA key are unbreakable today. They are also part of most web browsers and web servers.

The SSL Process:

Each SSL Session ensures:

  • Authenticity
  • Data Integrity
  • Data Privacy

How SSL Works:

  1. Provides visible authentication:
  2. Before an SSL session is established, the server it connects with needs to have a digital certificate – a kind of unique digital identification to establish its authenticity. Digital certificates are issued by a Certification Authority, after performing several checks to confirm the identity of the organization to which it is issuing the certificate.

    An SSL digital certificate generates a public key for your customers and a private key on your server that works as a kind of official, online stamp for your enterprise. This private key needs to be kept secure, along with a back-up. A user can check to see if a secure session has been established by looking at the web address: in a secure session, the ‘http:' portion of the web address changes to ‘https:'.

  3. Assures data integrity:
  4. This basically ensures that nobody can tamper with the data or information that is already online. Your customers will know that the contents of your website – or any information they have transmitted to it online – cannot be tampered with. It assures them that they are doing business in a safe environment.

  5. Ensures data privacy:
  6. This means that online collection of sensitive information is secure and cannot be intercepted or read by anyone except the computer it was intended for.

    Data integrity and data privacy are integral to the functioning and success of any website handling or facilitating online financial transactions – and that's what e-commerce is all about.

    Once a secure session has been established, the public key is used by customers, to encrypt the information being sent online. This information is then decoded instantaneously through your server's private key.

What an SSL digital certificate tells customers:

Customers today demand the highest levels of online safety. When you have a valid SSL digital certificate, your customers can see it to check:

  1. That it was indeed issued for your website
  2. Who the owner of the website is and his/her physical location
  3. The validity of the certificate

How SSL certification tackles security concerns:

Authentication further builds trust by addressing security issues like:

  1. Spoofing: Hackers create copycat websites that look like legitimate businesses and collect sensitive data like passwords, financial information and credit card numbers, online.
  2. Tampering: Competitors or any other dissatisfied individuals/groups my hack into your website and supplant information that has no right to be there. Or they may tamper with certain functions so that the website doesn't function properly, leading to a loss of business.
  3. Interception: When data is not encrypted securely, sensitive information can easily be intercepted, altered and/or misused, again, leading to a loss of trust. This can even attract legal action from the victims.

SSL: Safety, Security, Lots of business!

In effect, having an SSL certificate means that you can assure your customers that they are not exposed to any of the risks involved in sending data over any network and can feel safe sending sensitive information online to your server. Of course, an increase in trust always leads to an increase in business as well.

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