The Hostway Blog

SSL Certificates

If customers conduct any financial transactions through your Web site, you need a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate to protect their personal and financial information from prying eyes.

SSL certificates have been around so long that most online shoppers look for the symbols of security they provide and won't make a purchase if they don't see them. When you have an SSL certificate, shoppers on your Web site will see a lock icon in the bottom right corner of the window, and they'll see an "https" at the beginning of your URL on secured Web pages. These two symbols are important to people who are about to send their credit card information over the Internet.

How Does It Work?

An SSL certificate encrypts all of the customers' information before transmitting it over the Internet. That means anyone who intercepts the information will only see an unintelligible jumble of information.

The certificate contains information necessary to establish a secure connection. In a financial transaction, the Web site sending the credit card information and the Web site receiving the information must both have an SSL certificate to ensure a safe transaction.

Levels of Encryption

When you purchase an SSL certificate, you can choose from different levels of encryption, measured in bits. The more bits used in an encryption, the more difficult the key is to crack.

For information that is not extremely sensitive, you can use 40- to 56-bit encryption. For information that is extremely valuable, 128-bit encryption is a better choice.