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How Do SSL Certificates Secure the Web?

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An SSL certificate protects the website or application against cyber thieves by encrypting the data being transferred and sending it over a secure protocol to the receiver, keeping the transmission clear from cybercriminals’ eyes.

Given the ever-increasing number of technological advancements and cybercrimes, it is essential to have an SSL installed on your website or app in today’s world.

SSL is a feasible option for a small single website owner to a large organization because it is not a costly affair to buy one.

But, have you ever wondered why buying SSL is so essential for your site/app? Well, here is why:

Importance of SSL Certificates in Today’s World

  • In the world of technology, there is no stepping backward. Businesses will improve, lifestyle will improve and, a man’s capability will enhance further.
  • Unfortunately, the bad guys will also enhance their stealing and hacking potential simultaneously.
  • Since you have to venture online to grow your business in 2020, you need a protective layer that can shield your online website or e-commerce store from creepy hackers.
  • SSL fits the bill here, which is why it holds such importance. PCI/DSS recommends securing your customer’s credit/debit card and bank details through SSL installation.
  • Moreover, it also protects your database containing confidential information about your business from cybercriminals as well.
  • Without a doubt, SSL certificates are a need of the hour, but just getting an SSL installed does not solve your problem.
  • Monitoring your SSL’s performance is a necessity as well. To ensure that your SSL is performing optimally, you need software that can help you keep track of that.

How to Monitor your SSL Certificate’s Performance?

SSL certificates encounter validation errors regularly. To check how your SSL is performing, its availability, expiry, and functionality, you need Sematext synthetics monitoring solution.

Through Sematext browser monitor, the monitoring solution will run a check validating the following three main aspects of your SSL. They are:

The Validity of the Certificate

In this check, the monitoring software uses Google chrome as an end-user and checks what errors are popping up. It reports those errors to you for rectification.

Certificate Expiry Check

The monitoring software keeps a check of certificate expiry time daily. You will get an alert of renewal before 21,14,7 and 3 days of the expiration period.

Change Report

Here the monitoring software checks whether or not we need to change anything in the certificate. It runs this check every 10 minutes and sends you the change report if it finds any.

How does SSL Secure the Web?

SSL promotes web security by using two major cryptographic concepts, namely:

  • Asymmetric
  • Symmetric

Let’s dive deeper and know more about both concepts.

Asymmetric Cryptographic Concept

In the Asymmetric concept, SSL uses a pair of keys to initiate encryption and decryption. Both the keys are called the public key and a private key.

The public key is shared with the communicating server to establish communication, while the private key is kept confidential from the communicating server.

In the Asymmetric cryptographic concept, the data gets signed by a private key but, it can only get decrypted by a relevant public key of the pair.

SSL initiates the communication by using both these keys; this process is referred to as an SSL handshake.

Symmetric Cryptographic Concept

After both public and private keys initiate the communication, the process of actual encryption and decryption starts.

The key that is responsible for encryption and decryption of transferring data gets called session keys.

The work of the session key starts in symmetric cryptography after the initial SSL handshake gets done.

The actual data transmission

By using both asymmetric and symmetric concepts, the data gets transferred over a secure network. The transmission is done using two protocols, namely:

  • Handshake Protocol
  • Record Protocol

Let’s understand both the protocols in detail:

The Handshake Protocols

SSL cannot establish communication without exercising a handshake protocol. This asymmetric cryptographic concept is responsible for establishing a connection with the webserver by verifying it.

This protocol helps establish the public key for actual data transfer. In this initial stage, the certificate verifies the connection’s authenticity and ensures no loophole in it.

Record Protocol

In this protocol, the actual data transfer happens. This symmetric cryptographic concept makes both the client and the server use the same session key to initiate the encryption and decryption process.

The session key expires after the connection gets terminated. Every time a new connection gets built, a new session key gets generated to transmit data.

Asymmetric and Symmetric cryptography happens so fast that we cannot identify the process timing as general users.

However, this process does not just happen by itself. There is a PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) infrastructure behind establishing the SSL communication.
Even if you buy the cheapest SSL certificate, the PKI infrastructure remains the same.

What is Public Key Infrastructure?

The work of PKI is to create, revoke, manage, distribute, store, and use digital certification’s policies, roles, and procedures.

It set guidelines for digital certificates and public-key encryption. There are four main elements of PKI, namely:

CA Management

It manages the certificate authority that verifies computer and individual identities stating its authenticity.

RA Management

An RA or Registration Authority acts as a subordinate to the Certificate Authority. It can issue special certificates on CA’s behalf. PKI ensures that it works appropriately.

SSL File Management

PKI manages the SSL files that contain information related to public keys and company details.

CMS Management

The work of CMS or Certificate Management System is to revoke, store, or validates the certificate. The PKI manages it as well.

To Conclude

Web security in 2020 is not an easy task. Even SSL certificates have to go through strict processes to ensure that your website is in safe hands.

Thus, you must get an SSL installed on your website and monitor it through Sematext software.

It will keep you updated about the errors that might creep in due to one reason or the other by running regular checks and providing extensive solution reports.

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