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How Does the SSL Certificate Work?

An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that validates a website’s identity and enables secure communication. And today I am going to answer the question of how does the SSL certificate work? But one may ask what the acronym SSL stands for, well Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol that allows a web server and a web browser to communicate securely.

SSL certificates should be installed on a website to protect online transactions and keep customer information private and secure. The SSL in a summary secures internet connections by blocking hackers from reading or altering data transmitted between two systems.

I know some of you are still wondering “how do I know that the website I am visiting is secured with an SSL certificate?“, well it’s easy if you see a little padlock appearing before the website URL then you know that the connection to that website is secure. Check the images below to see.

A secure Website

How does the SSL certificate works ?
A Website with an SSL certificate installed.

Unsecure Website

How Does the SSL Certificate Work?
A Website without an SSL certificate installed.

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Now that you’ve had an insight into what the SSL certificate is, then let’s proceed to the main question.

How Does an SSL Certificate Work?

The SSL uses port number 433 to encrypt data exchanged between the browser and the server and authenticate the user, making it impossible for hackers to access it as it travels across the network. Such that even if someone were to launch a man-in-the-middle attack and intercept your data, they would be unable to see the actual data, such as usernames and passwords.

SSL uses a handshake process to establish a secure connection without interfering with the user’s experience. The SSL handshake procedure is as follows:

  • After building a TCP connection, the client started the handshake by sending information like the SSL version, cipher suites, and compression method.
  • The server then checks for the highest SSL version that is supported by both of them.
  • The server also chooses the compression method and the cipher suite from the client’s option.
  • After this exchange, the server sends a certificate (public key) to the client.
  • The client confirms the certificate, creates a pre-master secret for the session, and encrypts the session with the server’s public key.
  • The server receives the pre-master secret and decrypts it with the private key.
  • Both parties agree on a single cipher suite and generate the session keys (symmetric keys) to encrypt and decrypt the information during an SSL session.
  • Finally, both client and server exchange encrypted messages to ensure that future messages will be encrypted.

An SSL certificate aids in the security of information such as Login information, Bank account information or credit card transactions, Personally identifiable information such as full name, address, date of birth, or telephone number, Contracts, and legal documents.

In conclusion, It is critical to have an SSL certificate to ensure security, particularly on websites such as banking, airlines, and anywhere you put sensitive information online.

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