Too Embarrassed to Ask: What's SSL?
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Even the safest communities have dangerous dark sides, and the Internet is no exception.
There’s plenty that can go wrong on the web, and we don’t just mean accidentally emailing a picture of your rash to your coworkers instead of your doctor.
It seems like every other day we hear about a major corporation or e-commerce business being hacked. And while no company can afford to have their customers’ information compromised, small businesses, more than anyone else, risk losing everything should that happen.
But you don’t have to live in fear — as long as you’re taking the precautions necessary to protect your site and customers.
That’s where SSL comes in.
First things first: SSL is short for “Secure Sockets Layer,” which is basically a technology that encrypts data — like credit card numbers, logins, and passwords — as it’s being transferred online from point A to point B.
There are plenty of examples we could use where SSL comes into play, but for argument’s sake, let’s say that you’re an online T-shirt company making sales primarily through your e-commerce site. Your customer (point A) is browsing your site and decides to make a purchase. They enter their credit card number, and that information is then transferred to your web server (point B).
To get from point A to point B, the credit card number must travel through the vast abyss of the interwebs. If that number travels as “plain data,” it becomes incredibly vulnerable and easy to steal. SSL “certificates,” as they are called, encrypt the information as it’s being transferred, protecting it from hackers. Simple as that!
Though it still won’t help you with your rogue email problem. Or that rash.
Now you can answer this SSL poll like a champ!
photo: nicolas_ / Getty Images