When you go to a website such as Amazon.com and you log in, you see the https and//or the padlock up in your address bar. This indicates an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is present on that web page. Most of you likely know to only trust websites with this indicator when using your private information or credit card. So what is this SSL and what does it do?
SSL Certificates are an encryption protocol that encrypts data that passes through a website. So when you enter in your credit card number on Amazon to purchase that must have gadget, the SSL encrypts your credit card number so that it cannot be read by some hacker in transit. So what does that mean for you? I’ll use myself as an example:
I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks sipping my favourite coffee, and typing out this article. Just minutes ago I placed an order on Amazon.com for my next must have gadget (a new pair of headphones) and used my credit card. When I entered my login information and then my credit card numbers, I felt secure in doing so as I could see the Amazon SSL Certificate was fully verified up in the address bar of my browser. So if a person were in this same coffee shop and using a device that can read the WIFI traffic around it, then even if they could see my transaction, they would not be able to decrypt the SSL Certificate and read my credit card information.
You wouldn’t want your customers getting to the checkout on your website and not see that assuring padlock symbol or the https:// up in the address bar would you? Unless you’re only using PayPal, an SSL is required by any merchant company in order to process credit cards on your own ecommerce website. I personally prefer any website that exchanges information to have an SSL, as it lets me know that the information I’m sending to others is secure as well. In this growing age of mobile technology this is going to be a big factor in privacy.
So you don’t necessarily need to know every aspect of how they work, but if you’re dealing in products or information on the internet, it’s likely you should have at least one of these SSL Certificates.