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What is an SSL Certificate

SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting encrypted messages accross the internet. SSL uses a cryptographic system that uses two keys to encrypt data − a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message.

All modern web browsers support SSL web pages and an SSL page can be identified by the address of the website. A non SSL web page address will be preceeded with http:// whereas an SSL web page will be preceeded with https:// The browser sometimes additionaly indicates the page is using SSL by displaying a padlock or security icon on the page.

SSL is commonly used for encrypting many different forms of data tarnsmission including emails, VPN's and terminals.

An SSL Certificate is a small data file that digitally binds a cryptographic key to your business details like your domain name, server name or hostname, your company name and location and in certain cases your organisational contact details.

An SSL Certificate needs to be installed onto a web server to initiate SSL sessions with browsers. Depending on the type of SSL Certificate applied for, the organisation will need to go through differing levels of vetting.

Once installed, it is possible to connect to the website over https://www.domain.com as this tells the server to establish a secure connection with the browser. Once a secure connection is established all web traffic between the web server and the web browser will be secure. To view an SSL Certificate click on the padlock and select View Certificate.

All browsers show the Certificate slightly differently but the Certificate always contains the same information.