- What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to the strategies, practices, and procedures involved in defending computer devices, software, servers, networks, and all the data held in these devices from cyber attackers.
Cybersecurity is essential to the government, businesses, individuals, healthcare organizations, and organizations that store sensitive data on mobile devices.
Both businesses and individuals should take up responsibility and establish apposite and sufficient cybersecurity measures. Cybersecurity threats are rapidly evolving, and data breaches become a common action nowadays. A 2019 report by RiskBased Security revealed a whopping 15 billion records were exposed due to data breaches. The blame goes to lack of or inadequate security tools to protect the data from such threats.
There are so many security tools and best practices that you can choose to work with. One perfect tool which I will dwell on in this article is the SSL certificate. SSL certificates have been worthy companions for websites that desire to remain secure and protect their data. Let us now learn more about the SSL certificate and how it works.
- What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the mainstay of our internet security, primarily tasked with protecting the data and information traveling across computer networks. SSL is a protocol that encrypts and decrypts all communication travelling across website servers and website browsers, thus preventing hackers and malicious cybercriminals from accessing the information. SSL certificate, apart from just securing the communication between the servers and browsers, also secures email communications and other communication over unsecured networks.
The TLS (Transport Layer Security) is a successor version of the Secure Socket Layer, and there are no significant differences between the two.
- What is the significance of an SSL Certificate in Cyber Security?
Is it necessary for you to have an SSL certificate? The answer to the question is a big YES, well, unless you do not care about your website’s security. I am sure you do care, and you are willing to do anything to ensure that your website is secure. Among the things you should be ready to do is buy an SSL certificate to protect your website.
No website security plan is complete unless the SSL tool is included in the plan. SSL certificate is not a luxury, nor is it used for prestigious purposes. It is a necessity and an indispensable ingredient without which website security can never be complete.
The primary role of an SSL certificate is to protect the communication that happens between the servers and the websites. When an SSL certificate is installed on a website, it will initiate a secure session. The communication between the servers and the browsers will be encrypted.
In a layman’s language, the communication is locked and can only be opened by the intended recipient, who possesses the right key to open the information. Information will travel through a coded format that cannot be understood by intruders. This makes it useless for intruders to try and access the information. Ideally, you cannot spy on information that you cannot understand. To prevent yourself from the mischievous army of hackers and intruders full on the internet, you will have to buy an SSL certificate. The SSL certificate protects vital information such as credit card details, debit card details, personal and private information, and essential health records.
SSL certificate will not only help you strengthen your security walls, but it also plays other important roles. For instance, if you are looking to improve your ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages, installing an SSL certificate will help. There is a strong relation between HTTPS and search engine ranking.
SSL certificate is also necessary when you need to affirm your identity to your clients. Identity verification and authentication is an essential aspect when it comes to website security. Website visitors want to establish your legitimacy and be sure that they are not dealing with a scammer. To do so, the website visitors will check if you have an SSL certificate.
For a Certificate Authority to issue an SSL certificate, it will first establish and prove your identity. Once your identity has been proved, your website will get trust indicators that users will be looking to establish if they can trust you. All that a website visitor will have to do is to check the URL of your website. Websites with an SSL certificate will have the URLs starting with HTTPS, while those websites without an SSL certificate will have the URL starting with HTTP.
If you accept online payments, then having an SSL certificate is mandatory. The Payment Card Industry requires one to have an SSL certificate. Therefore, installing an SSL certificate is going to be mandatory, whether you want it or not.
- About SSL Certificate’s Functionality
An SSL certificate is made up of two keys, the private key and the public key. The pair of keys usually work together to create an encrypted session. Apart from the two keys, the SSL certificate will also include the owner (subject).
A Certificate Signing Request (CSR) is necessary to get an SSL certificate for a website required to create on the server. The process of creating a Certificate Signing Request will generate both the public key and the private key on your server.
A Certificate Signing Request data file sent to the SSL certificate issuer, referred to as the Certificate Authority, will contain the public key. The certificate authority will use the Certificate Signing Request data file to create a data structure that matches your private key. This is to be done without the key being compromised. You should bear in mind that the Certificate Authority never sees the private key.
Once the verification process is completed, the CA issues a certificate, and you will need to install the SSL certificate on your servers. You will also need to install another certificate that establishes if your SSL certificate is credible by trying it on the Certificate Authority’s root certificate.
An essential fact that you should know about the SSL certificate is that the Certificate Authority signs it. Browsers will trust those certificates that are created by trusted Certificate Authorities. When the browser trusts the Certificate Authority, it can trust the organization owning the certificate. It is simple that way. The website will let the web visitors know that they are browsing over a secure session and can even share their essential information.
- The SSL Handshake
An encrypted session starts with the SSL handshake. This is where the two communicating parties exchanging information decide to open a secure connection by exchanging public keys. During the SSL handshake, the two communicating parties will generate the session keys.
The session keys are the ones tasked with encrypting and decrypting the information between servers and website browsers. Usually. Each session will involve different session keys that encrypt the information. The SSL certificate will ensure that the party that one is communicating with is legitimate. It also ensures that intruders cannot alter the data. A Message Authentication Code (MAC) will be included in information exchanges. It will ensure that no unauthorized party can access or alter the information.
Cyber threats have increased. Cases of data breaches are being reported daily. This calls for the utmost seriousness in the issues of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is all about ensuring that your devices, software, and networks are safe and out of reach by hackers. To achieve this, proper security measures and tools need to come into play. One essential tool that has been effective as far as cybersecurity is concerned is the SSL certificate. This article has explained what an SSL certificate is and why it is of great significance in cybersecurity.