What Is SSL and How Does It Work?

What Is SSL and How Does It Work?

Thursday 17th January 2019

SSL or Secured Sockets Layer is a protocol which runs on websites. The protocol was introduced by Netscape in 1990s to improve the security of websites. Afterward, the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol was created as an extension of the SSL. The terms SSL and TLS are often used interchangeably.

An SSL certificate simply shows that a website is secure for browsing and online payment. The messages between clients and servers are encrypted to ensure that they are not violated by any unauthorized party, particularly in the event of a cyberattack like MITM (man in the middle) attack.

To do this, SSL uses cryptographic keys of asymmetric and symmetric encryption which enable SSL certificates.


The above-mentioned encryption is divided into two basic types: asymmetric and symmetric encryption.

In asymmetric encryption there are two types of keys: private key and public key. The public key is used to encrypt information from the sender so that no third-party can access it. The private key is used to decipher or decrypt this information on the receiver's side.
Digital signatures are often produced through asymmetric encryption. These signatures are used to determine the confirmation of ad document from a party. In such scenarios, a private key is used to produce the signature while the verification is done through the public key. Bear in mind that digital signatures are utilized by SSL for validating the authenticity of website servers. RSA is one of the examples of asymmetric encryption.

Symmetric encryption is one in which both the encryption and decryption is performed through the use of the same key. This means that unlike asymmetric encryption, both the sender and receiver use the same cryptographic algorithm to encode or decode information. Examples of symmetric encryption include the Caesar Cipher, AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), and DES (Data Encryption Standard).

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is a type of web document which is assigned to an online entity. This entity can vary, for instance it can be a hosted server for a website's domain. Usually an SSL certificate contains the following information.
• Who does the certificate belong to?
• When is the expected date for the termination (expiration) of the certificate?
• A public key for encryption.
• The CA's (Certificate Authority) digital signature that was responsible for the issuance of the SSL certificate.
It is not possible for website owners to save all the certificate authorities since it constitutes an extensive list. Therefore, they only save a handful of root certificate authorities. Intermediate CA's are issued by root CA's. Subsequently, the issued intermediate CA's can now issue their own SSL certificates.

Final Thoughts

In today's age, it is hard to stumble upon a modern business which does not use SSL. SSL has truly become a fundamental player for the website security of modern businesses. If you do not have SSL integrated in your website then don't be late—install it before your website gets exploited by a cyberattack.
For any recommendations on SSL, you can always contact us.