What is an SSL certificate and why is it important?

Online security is an ever-growing necessity in the increasingly connected world. Everything from our personal photos to website passwords sensitive financial data to medical records is stored using various online platforms, making security on the internet more essential than ever. One of the most common methods for ensuring private, safe internet connections is through SSL certificates. But what exactly are SSL certificates? And why are they so important? Let’s take a closer look at what SSL certification entails and why it’s such an important part of any online connection. 

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What is a SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate, or Secure Sockets Layer certificate, refers to a distinct method for encryption. SSL certificates will make sure that the data submitted from a computer or mobile device is sent securely to the source--whether it's an online shop, password login, or other internet-connected platform. When an SSL certificate is active, it protects the data from being recognised or stolen by third parties, including hackers and people looking to gleam sensitive data for identity theft.

How SSL Certificates Work

SSL certificates work through the use of two different keys. One of these keys is public and the other is private. The first public key is what encrypts the information so that it can only be unlocked through the next layer, aka the private key. The benefit of using SSL is that even if hackers are able to acquire data submitted through the first public key, the data will be unrecognisable streams of numbers rather than anything that a hacker or someone else with devious intent could use against anyone.

It is vital to note whether or not the SSL Certificate is active when you are browsing websites which require you to input sensitive data. If the SSL Certificate is not there or is showing up as out of date, show caution and avoid submitting any sensitive data, as it can more easily be stolen without a proper SSL certificate.

Why SSL Certificates Are Important

In order to understand why SSL Certificates are so important, all you need to do is think about all the sensitive information you may put online in any given day. You might input a credit card number in the morning to pay for your breakfast pickup at a local coffee shop; you could log into your online cloud account to access files remotely when you’re home from work; and you could input the password on your home security system before bed so that you’ll receive alarms or updates in the night.

Now imagine all of that private information—passwords, photos, the input code to your security system—have been compromised. You could lose your privacy, your money—and much more—if the issue is left unchecked. All of which could have been prevented if you’d stuck to sites with proper SSL certification. 

That is why SSL is such an important part of any web server: it protects your private data from being sold and spread around the world wide internet.