SSL: Your Key to E-commerce Security
The e-commerce business is all about making money and then finding ways to make more money. Of course, it’s hard to make (more) money, when consumers don’t feel safe executing a transaction on your Web site. That’s where SSL (Secure Socket Layer) comes into play. Understanding how SSL affects e-commerce business can also potentially help you to unlock (more) money from your customers.
What is SSL?
Since its introduction in 1994, SSL has been the de facto standard for e-commerce transaction security, and it’s likely to remain so well into the future.
SSL is all about encryption. SSL encrypts data, like credit cards numbers (as well other personally identifiable information), which prevents the “bad guys” from stealing your information for malicious intent. You know that you’re on an SSL protected page when the address begins with “https” and there is a padlock icon at the bottom of the page (and in the case of Mozilla Firefox in the address bar as well).
Your browser encrypts the data and sends to the receiving Web site using either 40-bit or 128-bit encryption. Your browser alone cannot secure the whole transaction and that’s why it’s incumbent upon e-commerce site builders to do their part.
At the other end of the equation, and of greatest importance to e-commerce site builders, is the SSL certificate. The SSL certificate sits on a secure server and is used to encrypt the data and to identify the Web site. The SSL certificate helps to prove the site belongs to who it says it belongs to and contains information about the certificate holder, the domain that the certificate was issued to, the name of the Certificate Authority who issued the certificate, the root and the country it was issued in.
SSL certificates come in 40-bit and 128-bit varieties, though 40-bit encryption has been hacked. As such, you definitely should be looking at getting a 128-bit certificate.
Though there a wide variety of ways in which you could potentially acquire a 128-bit certificate, there is one key element that is often overlooked in order for full two-way 128-bit encryption to occur. According to SSL certificate vendor VeriSign, in order to have 128-bit encryption you need a certificate that has SGC (server grade cryptography) capabilities.