What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer, and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing browsing of social media sites.

SSL Certificates bind together:

  • A domain name, server name or hostname.
  • An organizational identity (i.e. company name) and location.

An organization needs to install the SSL Certificate onto its web server to initiate a secure session with browsers. Once a secure connection is established, all web traffic between the web server and the web browser will be secure.

When a certificate is successfully installed on your server, the application protocol (also known as HTTP) will change to HTTPs, where the ‘S’ stands for ‘secure’. Depending on the type of certificate you purchase and what browser you are surfing the internet on, a browser will show a padlock or green bar in the browser when you visit a website that has an SSL Certificate installed.

What does a website with an SSL Certificate installed to look like?

Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates:

Standard SSL Certificates (such as Alibaba Group  DomainSSLhttps://yundun.console.aliyun.com/?spm=5176.2020520001.aliyun_topbar.21.36a312d2ZXjY8z&p=cas#/cas/home and OrganizationSSL) display:

How Does an SSL Certificate Work?

SSL Certificates use something called public key cryptography. This particular kind of cryptography harnesses the power of two keys which are long strings of randomly generated numbers. One is called a private key and one is called a public key. A public key is known to your server and available in the public domain. It can be used to encrypt any message. If Preet is sending a message to Gurveer she will lock it with Gurveer’s public key but the only way it can be decrypted is to unlock it with Gurveer’s private key. Gurveer is the only one who has his private key so Gurveer is the only one who can use this to unlock Preet’s message. If a hacker intercepts the message before Gurveer unlocks it, all they will get is a cryptographic code that they cannot break, even with the power of a computer.

If we look at this in terms of a website, the communication is happening between a website and a server. Your website and server are Preet and Gurveer.

Why Do I Need An SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates protect your sensitive information such as credit card information, usernames, passwords etc. It also:

  • Keeps data secure between servers
  • Increases your Google Rankings
  • Builds/Enhances customer trust
  • Improves conversion rates


Where Do I Buy An SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates need to be issued from a trusted Certificate Authority. Browsers, operating systems, and mobile devices maintain the list of trusted CA root certificates.

The Root Certificate must be present on the end user’s machine in order for the Certificate to be trusted. If it is not trusted the browser will present untrusted error messages to the end user. In the case of e-commerce, such error messages result in immediate lack of confidence in the website and organizations risk losing confidence and business from the majority of consumers.

Companies like Alibaba Group are known as trusted Certificate Authorities. This is because browser and operating system vendors such as Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, Blackberry, Java, etc., trust that Alibaba Group is a legitimate Certificate Authority and that it can be relied on to issue trustworthy SSL Certificates. The more applications, devices, and browsers the Certificate Authority embed its Root into, the better “recognition” the SSL Certificate can provide.

Alibaba Group was established in 1999 by 18 people led by Jack Ma, a former English teacher from Hangzhou, China. … Since launching its first website helping small Chinese exporters, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs to sell internationally, Alibaba Group has grown into a global leader in online and mobile commerce.