SSL Is An Innovative Approach To Improve Your Website Protection
In the hustle and bustle of designing and developing a new ecommerce website or even a website to offer sales to support a brick and mortar business, security for the website may not take priority.
This is particularly true if you are one of the many entrepreneurs and startup companies that are using the do-it-yourself approach to launching your online business. Typically, IT professionals and teams will address enterprise security as they are setting up the site, but it can be more challenging if you are new to the technology.
The importance of website protection through the use of SSL certificates is universal for all types of website that collect any type of personal or financial information. This not only protects the website user from having his or her information hacked, but it is also required if you are going to directly process credit or debit card through your own merchant account.
This is required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards and has to include the specific level of cyber security with regards to the transmittal of financial information. All websites have to provide 256 bit encryption of data to meet the industry standards for internet cyber security.
A few of the top Certificate Authorities, the entities that verify the information about the company and issue the actual SSL certificate, also offer other required elements. This can include free PCI compliant scanning and website vulnerability scanning. These scans are used to proactively identify areas where there could be a security issue or potential data breach with regards to the processing of credit or debit cards.
In addition to fulfilling these requirements, there are additional ways that SSL technology is used to protect your website and your good name online. Just be sure to use a recognized Certificate Authority with a top reputation in security products and service.
Different Levels Of Assurance
There are different levels of SSL certificate products on the market that correspond to different levels of validation provided by the Certificate Authority. Not all are equal, but all should provide the same level of 256-bit encryption. They should also use 2048 bit signing keys as well; this is now required as part of the standards through the various Certificate Authorities.
The three levels of assurance, trust and verification provide additional information to the customer or website user. To give you an idea of the difference and to help determine which is best for your needs, here is a simple breakdown of the three:
- Domain validated – this the most basic type of validation for SSL certificates. It includes the Certificate Authority verifying that the information provided on the application and the Certificate Signing Request matches what is available for the website through WHOIS. In other words, it verifies the website is owned by the person applying for the SSL product. This is good for blogs and other general sites not transmitting sensitive information.
- Organizational validated – this goes beyond the domain validation process to include verifying that the applicant owns the site and is an actual business or person. This includes checking that a business exists or that an individual exists through online databases and trusted sources. This is often the best option for smaller websites.
- Extended validation – this is the highest level and includes the Certificate Authority completing all the previous checks as well as checking into the legitimacy of the business and that it is an actual legal business. This includes additional documentation in many cases. This is the only SSL certificate that provides the full green address bar.
All of these options protect your customers, clients and website users from hackers accessing the data they transmit through your site. Clients can see you have an SSL certificate through the padlock or color change in the address bar as well as the presences of the Certificate Authorities site seal if you choose to use it on the site.
The Phishing Website Problem Eliminated
Another very important consideration is the protection the SSL/TLS certificate provides your website. If someone tried to create a phishing website that looked like yours or even redirect your website to their server, the SSL encryption, keys and certificate would immediately create a mismatch.
In addition, should the hacker or phishing scammer then try to apply for an SSL certificate it would be tracked by the Certificate Authority, ensuring that your website cannot be used to trick customers into providing sensitive information to someone else by having a fake SSL certificate issued.
It is possible that someone could find a way to access your private key on a server. This could happen through an in-house breach of data security where a current or former employee with access authority makes a copy of the private key and uses it.
Should this happen, the Certificate Authority can revoke the current certificate, which would render the copied private key file and certificate invalid. Then, the Certificate Authority can issue a new SSL certificate, allowing your website to continue to operate with full security authentication and without any risk to your customers, clients and users.