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Introduction to SSL and How it Works
Introduction to SSL and How it Works
Rapyd Team avatar
Written by Rapyd Team
Updated over a week ago

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a protocol that enables secure communication over the internet. It achieves this by encrypting data between a client and a web server, ensuring that the information exchanged between the two parties is kept private and secure.

The importance of SSL

The factors below define why SSL is needed:

  1. Security: SSL provides confidentiality and integrity of data. By encrypting data, SSL ensures that information exchanged between the client and server is kept private and secure. This is particularly crucial when sensitive information such as credit card numbers or personal information is being transmitted. SSL also verifies that data has not been tampered with during transmission, ensuring its integrity.

  2. Assurance: SSL enables trust and credibility. SSL certificates are issued by trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs) and are displayed on websites, indicating that the website is secure and legitimate. This provides assurance to customers that their personal and financial information is safe and that they can trust the website.

  3. Ranking: SSL enhances website ranking and SEO. Search engines such as Google prioritize secure websites over non-secure ones. By implementing SSL, websites can increase their ranking and visibility, ultimately leading to more traffic and business.

  4. Proper standard: SSL is mandatory for PCI compliance. PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards require that websites that process credit card transactions must use SSL encryption to protect customer data. Failure to comply with these standards can result in fines and reputational damage.

  5. It is easy to use: SSL is easy to implement and cost-effective. With the availability of free SSL certificates and automated tools for installation, SSL implementation is now more accessible than ever. Additionally, the benefits of SSL far outweigh the costs, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

How does SSL work?

The following section provides an overview of how SSL works.

  1. The Connection: When a connection is initiated between a client and a server that supports SSL, the server sends its SSL certificate to the client. The SSL certificate includes the public key of the server, which is used by the client to encrypt data before sending it to the server. The server then decrypts the data using its private key.

  2. Encryption: SSL uses a combination of symmetric and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption is used to encrypt the data being transmitted, while asymmetric encryption is utilized to establish a secure channel between the client and server.

  3. Communication: Initially, the client sends a "hello" message to the server, specifying the SSL version it supports, the cipher suites it can use, and other necessary information. The server responds with a "hello" message of its own, specifying the SSL version it supports, the cipher suite it has chosen, and other necessary information.

  4. Verification: Next, the server sends its SSL certificate to the client, which includes its public key. The client verifies the certificate to ensure that it has been issued by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) and that it has not been tampered with.

  5. After Verification: After the certificate has been verified, the client generates a symmetric key, which is used to encrypt data during the session. The symmetric key is then encrypted using the server's public key and sent to the server. The server decrypts the symmetric key using its private key, and both the client and server can then use the symmetric key to encrypt and decrypt data during the session.

Once the SSL connection has been established, the client and server can exchange data securely. This is particularly important when sensitive information such as credit card numbers or personal information is being transmitted.

Conclusion

SSL has been succeeded by the newer TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol, but the term SSL is still commonly used to refer to both SSL and TLS. Today, SSL and TLS are used to secure a wide variety of internet communications, including web browsing, email, and instant messaging.

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