SSL is a top security protocol that an SSL secure server uses to communicate. But there’s more to server security than its protocol. Read this article to understand what an SSL secure server is and what else is needed for server security.
What Is SSL?
The initialism SSL stands for the phrase Secure Sockets Layer. It refers to a protocol that has become one of the security standards for Internet communication. SSL was developed by Netscape to accomplish two tasks: website identity validation and encrypted transmission of personal data, such as credit card numbers. SSL aims to prevent intercepted messages from being decoded, and through its certificate granted by a Certificate Authority (CA), customers’ information is protected from their information being leaked.
SSL was first publicly released in 1995 (SSL 2.0) and security flaws led to the design of SSL 3.0, released in 1996. A newer protocol, TLS (Transport Layer Security) is also used as an upgrade to SSL version 3. TLS 1.0 is also referred to as SSL 3.1; TLS 1.1 as SSL 3.2; and TLS 1.2 as SSL 3.3.
SSL is indicated in various ways by different web browsers. The s in a URL (https://) or a closed lock at the top of the browser are two indications that SSL is being used. Note that while https usually refers to SSL, it may also refer to other security protocols. The https protocol is important to look for anytime you are filling out forms, such as order forms when shopping online, where your personal and credit card information will be transmitted over the Internet. Years ago many people learned to look for the little padlock in the corner to see if the site they were working through was “secure”. However, nowadays there are many more ways to indicate, or let you know your information will be safe when transmitted from your computer.
What Is an SSL Secure Server?
An SSL secure server simply means a server that uses SSL to communicate. The term does not mean that the server has been secured in any other way. A secure server—one that uses SSL to communicate—is required for ecommerce. The secure server can be onsite with the etailer or can be run by the etailers web hosting company.
How Do SSL Secure Servers Work?
Basically, an SSL secure server protects information like this. First, the browser requests a secure session with the server, and the server supplies its certificate for the browser to validate. If the certificate is found to be valid, the browser creates a session key that is encrypted using the server’s public key from the certificate and returned to the server. The server uses its private key to decrypt the information, and this establishes mutual and secure communication between browser and server, allowing the customer to securely pass credit card transaction and other personal information safely.
What Other Steps Are Needed for Server Security?
To be truly secure in all dimensions, a server must be:
- subjected to regular backups
- capable of being restored
- located on premises that are guarded from intrusion
- part of a redundant network that will not lose data in case of a network problem or outage
- regularly maintained
- part of a system with a backup power supply
Only when these requirements are in place is an SSL secure server a secure SSL secure server.
SSL for Website Owners
When you are just starting to create a website there are many things you will want to do to make sure your website is secure enough to protect you and your website, as well as your potential customers. There are a number of ways that hackers, scammers, and phishers have figured out to be able to extract credit card and personal information from websites. It is up to you to ensure your customers they (and their information) is safe doing business with you via your website.
First of all, whether you choose to host your website on a shared server, virtual private server, or dedicated server you will want to make find out what the web hosting provider does to make sure the server your site will be on is secure. As stated above, providing a SSL secure server is just one step in securing their customers websites. If you are a large corporation, owning your own dedicated servers, then making sure you add SSL immediately is important. It’s equally important that you keep your SSL valid, up-to-date, and working. There are a number of SSL checker tools available to ensure you and your customers are protected.
Just because you host your site with a web host that has an SSL secure server does NOT mean your website is ready to start accepting credit cards and transmitting personal information. You must also have a separate SSL certificate for your website. There are a number of different types of SSL certificates available. Educate yourself on the different SSL certificates, evaluate your security needs, then find the best SSL certificate to suit your needs.
Keep in mind that if you are accepting credit cards over the Internet there are a number of other things you are going to need such as a merchant account or payment gateway, a dedicated IP address, and more depending on the type and size of website you create. Just remember to do your research and educate yourself on what it is going to take to make your website the most secure it can be prior to jumping into just transmitting information without the following the proper channels.