There are a lot of acronyms and abbreviations that we see on the Web. We take these words and letters for granted. HTTP, .HTML, .GIF, and so on all mean something. These meanings often go over the heads of most users, but it is important for webmasters to understand what these acronyms mean. In this article, we will focus on SSL, an important aspect of e-commerce.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is a security protocol that allows two devices to communicate securely. SSL is typically used when a Web browser needs to communicate with a web server over a secure connection. Credit card purchases, online banking, secure webmail, and the input of sensitive information are all examples of when SSL proves to be useful. SSL certificates can be purchased online from a number of places including web hosting companies such as who are one of the cheapest around.

Webpages that use SSL have URLs (addresses) that begin with HTTPS rather than the standard HTTP. Secure connections utilize port 443 rather than port 80, and are more secure against eavesdropping attempts, keeping our information safe through encryption.

Operating without security is too risky for businesses and clients alike. It follows that webmasters that require a secure channel of commerce for their clients are going to have to invest in SSL certification.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is similar to a legal document, only in digital form. A fully-authenticated certificate contains information about the owner of a website, including the site’s domain name, the business or organization associated with the site, and the physical location of that business or organization. On the other hand, a domain-authenticated certificate only vouches for a domain, and will only include to two-letter country code where the company’s website is based.

How are SSL Certificates Accessed?

When browsers access secure URLs (URLs that begin with HTTPS), an icon becomes visible to alert the user that they are browsing a secure site. Depending on the browser, this icon typically comes in the form of a padlock, and is located to the left of the address bar, or near the bottom of the screen. Clicking or double clicking this icon will display the SSL certificate.

This information allows clients to know exactly whom they are doing business with, building a level of trust. This trust, along with the security provided by HTTPS protocols can give customers peace of mind when engaging in e-commerce on our websites.

But How Can SSL Certificates be Trusted?

The Internet can be seen as similar to the Wild West in the United States during the Nineteenth Century. There is a ton of opportunity, but there are issues with lawlessness and deception as well. With all of the scamming and lying on the Internet, how can SSL certificates be trusted?

Fully-authenticated SSL certificates don’t just fall out of the sky. There is a process that must be undergone in order to attain them. First, a business or organization must compile documents that prove its nature and its existence. These documents can include business licenses, proof of incorporation, and other such legal documents. Once the documents are compiled, they are sent or faxed to certificate issuer, such as GeoTrust. Certificate issuers can help clients develop trust by vouching for the validity of an organization or business.

Can Domain-Authenticated Certificates be Trusted?

When a company decides to opt for a domain-authenticated SSL certificate, the issuer only needs to vouch for the company’s domain, and not the company itself. For this reason, the company or organization only has to provide proof that it owns the domain that is to be certified. This process is quick and straightforwards for business owners and webmasters, but can it provide the level of trust needed for end users?

The answer is yes.

Although a company’s information might not be easily visible to customers, domain-authenticated certificates connect businesses to their websites. If any shady business were to occur, the organization or firm associated with the site could still have action taken against them.

For instance, hiding WHOIS information is commonplace on the Web, but a company that hides their WHOIS info would not be eligible for domain-authenticated certification. In order to be certified, the company would have to publicize this information and make sure that it is the correct info. Thus, domain-authentication can be a faster, more efficient method of getting an SSL certificate while still creating and maintaining trust with current and potential customers.

Trust is an extremely important factor in the relationship between a business and its clients. Customers should make sure that SSL certification is in place for businesses that they plan on purchasing from. It is also paramount for business owners to invest in SSL certification if they plan on building and developing a web presence that customers can trust. Make sure that your business is secure and trustworthy by getting SSL certified.