Matt Cotten & Associates

Expertise in Ecommerce, Website Design, SEO & Internet Marketing

What is a SSL Certificate?

What is a SSL Certificate?SSL certificates provide security for your website by encrypting communications between the server and the person visiting the website. This keeps you and your customers safe by protecting the information that’s flowing to and from your website. SSL certificates can be used to encrypt names, addresses, passwords, account and credit card numbers and more so hackers and other online criminals can’t read them.

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What is a SSL Certificate?How Does a SSL Certificate Work?

An SSL certificate serves as an electronic “passport.” It establishes the website’s authenticity and credibility and enables the browser and Web server to build a secure, encrypted connection.

Credibility is established by checking the digital certificate, which includes:

  • The Certificate holder’s name (individual or company)
  • The Certificate’s serial number and expiration date
  • A copy of the Certificate holder’s “public” cryptographic key
  • The digital signature of the Certificate-issuing authority
  • Extended SSL Certificates give the site visitor an additional visual cue, displaying the Certificate holder’s name against a distinctive green background in the visitor’s

Do I Need a SSL Certificate?

If you are accepting credit card payments online via a merchant account, the credit card associations and networks require that you use SSL whenever you transmit credit card information, such as the card number, cardholder’s name, expiration date, CVV code, etc. (such as when a customer enters their credit card on your shopping cart order form or payment page). This is an important part of making your website PCI compliant (a set of rules that must be followed in order to accept credit card payments).

If customers are not entering credit card information directly on your website, but rather entering it directly on a payment processing company’s website, such as PayPal, Google Checkout or Amazon Payments, then you do not need an SSL Certificate, since you are not transmitting or storing credit card information.

What is a SSL Certificate?How Does My Customer Know My Site is Secure?

Once a visitor is on an SSL-protected page, the following visual indicators appear to show them that your site is secure and to give them the confidence to proceed:

  • A “padlock” icon in the browser’s status bar
  • The https:// prefix in the URL
  • The URL address bar turns to green (Extended Validation Certificates only)
  • The Trusted “Verified and Secure” site seal

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