Web hosting is an essential aspect of any online business or just any website, be it for a showcase site, blog, e-commerce site, etc. This aspect (hosting) should never be taken lightly, just like the design of the site or the domain name.
However, security also plays a very important role in all IT projects. For the Internet, security is provided by SSL certificates and other technologies.
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a security system that allows the establishment of an encrypted connection between the server and a client’s web browser.
This connection is encrypted to ensure data security and thus prevent the leakage of sensitive data such as passwords, credit card information, etc.
How does an SSL certificate work?
An SSL certificate works on the session principle: this means that each time the web browser connects to the server, a unique session is created. This session is automatically destroyed once the connection is cut or after a lapse of time.
The operation of an SSL certificate is as follows. First, the server sends a copy of its asymmetric public key to the web browser. By receiving this key, the web browser will create an asymmetric session key which is encrypted using the server key, then this session key (that of the browser) is transmitted to the server.
Then, the server decrypts the browser session key using its asymmetric key. After that, all data transmitted between the server and the browser is encrypted and decrypted, each on its own (the server encrypts the transmitted data and decrypts the received data, and the browser does the same). This last operation secures the data transmission channel since only the server and the browser have keys to encrypt/decrypt the data.
This makes it possible to have data encrypted in both directions. If these fall into the hands of a hacker, the latter will not be able to use them.
How to install an SSL certificate?
The installation of an SSL certificate may vary from one hosting to another. Indeed, some hosts offer an SSL certificate included in their hosting offers, which is very practical for novices or people who want to conquer the Internet.
Others offer the purchase of a certificate from their sites, which is also convenient since it is the system that will take care of the installation of the certificate.
And some have neither the first option, nor the second, but have a certificate installation system. In this case, here are the steps to follow.
Then, you have to go to the control panel of your host. There, things may differ depending on your host, but generally, you will have a ‘cPanel’ type control panel.
- Once connected to the ‘cPanel’, go to the administration (admin cPanel), then security, and click on ‘SSL/TSL’.
- On the SSL certificate management page, you will typically have four options in front of you: generate, view, download, and delete. These options allow you to manage the certificates you already have and those you want to install.
- There, you just have to choose the option according to your needs: if you want to buy a certificate directly from the host, you have to choose ‘generate’. If you already have one and want to use it, you have to choose the ‘download’ option, etc.
- Once the file has been downloaded (if you have chosen this option of course), check your file and click on the ‘install’ button. The system will take care of the rest to finalize the installation and deployment of the SSL certificate.
Benefits of SSL certificates
Primarily, SSL certificates are used on sites where sensitive data is sent between client and server (login information, credit card numbers, etc.). For example, on sites such as e-commerce or a streaming service, training, jobbing platform, etc. all need SSL certificates because the data transmitted is sensitive and must be protected.
On a site showcase or simply a site that promotes an agency where the user is viewing the site, SSL certificates are not needed.
Here are the advantages of SSL certificates:
- Secures communications between client browser and server. Any data transmitted between the 2 will be encrypted, which makes it unusable if it falls into the hands of a hacker.
- Access to certain services. Almost all modern browsers offer localization, and localization only works with a valid SSL certificate.
- Makes the website look more professional. The image of professionalism is heightened by the presence of an SSL certificate which assures visitors that their data is encrypted and secure.
- Improves SEO. An SSL certificate greatly improves the referencing of websites, because the security aspect is also taken into consideration nowadays, especially by the Google search engine. Indeed, if you have an e-commerce site but no SSL certificate, Google will judge that your site is not secure and will lower it in the ranking.
Installing an SSL certificate is not very difficult with the advent of modern web hosts. Just a little advice: if you have the option of having an SSL certificate with the hosting package, this is a plus that will save you money and save you time as well.