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SSL Secure Server

Obtaining an SSL certificate has become an essential part of engaging in Ecommerce. Keeping data secure and encrypted, SSL makes online business possible. To facilitate the secure exchange of information, you will need an SSL secure server provided by your web hosting service provider. This SSL tutorial will help you understand the basics of SSL, SSL proxy and SSL port.

What is SSL Secure Server?
SSL stands for secure sockets layer which allows data to transfer in a secure environment. SSL encrypts the connection between the client (customer) and the web server. It is a standard developed by Netscape Communications to transfer information securely across the Internet. SSL will enable your customer's browser to connect to your web site and transparently negotiate a secure communication channel. Once this connection has been made, information, like credit card numbers, can be exchanged securely.

SSL is a program to manage the security of message transmissions in a network. This encryption process makes it extremely difficult for anyone to intercept and read information between your computer (the client) and the server to which you are making a connection. SSL is used mainly for connections that require you to provide personal information, such as your home address, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

How does SSL work?
In order to process transactions securely on the web we need to be able to transmit information between the web site and the customer in a manner that makes it difficult for other people to intercept and read. SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, takes care of this for us and it works through a combination of programs and encryption/decryption routines that exist on the web hosting computer and the browser programs (like Netscape and Internet Explorer) used by the general public.

SSL uses a technique called public-key encryption, where each side of the transaction has a shared public key, and a private key that is not shared. Data encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted with the private key. Each side encrypts its data with the remote end's public key, so that only the destination, and no intermediary, can decrypt the transmission and access data.

Unlike displaying a regular web page, when a person requests a secured web page (https://), the browser and the server must go through a series of requests and acknowledgements, which take place automatically. Here is an outline of what happens:

  • You enter a URL such as https://www.mysite.com in your browser window.
  • The https indicates that you want your browser to initiate a secure session with the server.
  • The server responds by sending the site's certificate.
  • The browser checks the certificate information for validity.
  • The browser then creates a session key, which is encrypted with the server's public key, and sends it to the server.
  • The server then decrypts this information using it's private key.

    Both the browser and server are now using the same secret session key, and the little lock icon will appear on your browser window. All further information sent between the browser and the server will be automatically encrypted, as long as you continue using the https:// protocol.

    Do I need SSL Secure Server?
    If you are planning on accepting credit cards on your site or transferring other customer information you will want to have a host that provides SSL so your viewers information will be safely encrypted from their computer to your company database.

    Secure certificates are purchased from various certificate vendors and it requires a CSR (Certificate Signing Request) to be generated on the web server. This usually involves getting in touch with the hosting company and asking them to generate the CSR for you. Once you receive the Certifcate back from the certificate authority, you will normally need the hosting company to install it for you.

    Some web hosting companies have "shared" secure certificates that you can use under their domain name. This eliminates the need for you to get your own. As an example, if OurStore.com were a web hosting company and widget.com had an account there, they could use the shared certificate with a URL something like "https://widget.ourstore.com". A merchant that prefers to have their secure processing under their own domain name will need to get their own SSL certificate.

    Who offers SSL Secure Server?
    Most web hosting companies offer a shared SSL certificate with their web hosting plans, some include a shared SSL for free but to get your own you can expect to pay for this upgrade. GoDaddy  also has some of the cheapest SSL certificates.
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