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What is SSL?

Published 18th March 2016

Websites are more capable now than ever to take monetary transactions, manage information and provide services to you. There were security concerns some few decades ago in providing your personal information over the internet. This is because information sent over standard web forms without encryption is completely transparent to anyone who sits in between your computer and the target web server.

SSL, or secure sockets layer is a technology designed to provide encryption to your requests so that prying eyes are not able to look at what information you decide to send and recieve.

Generally, if you are going to make a card transaction online, or provide personally identifiable information over the internet - you want to make sure that the site you are accessing is using SSL. This can be most commonly identified by a green padlock in your URL bar.

Sites that utilize SSL should have a valid SSL Certificate. This certificate is a unique key that is used by the server and authorized by a valid certificate authority as a guarantee of the site's safety. It's a little bit like a police badge.

Some sites may have self-signed certificates, or invalid SSL certificates. If you see a website with an invalid SSL certificate, you will usually be prompted that the site's certificate is invalid, or see a red padlock in the URL bar. Be weary of providing personally identifiable information to a site like this, even if you access it regularly. It could be temporarily compromised and thus point to a different location.

An SSL certificate usually has to be issued by a trustworthy issuer, these are companies which sell their certificates with a guarantee and usually people who apply for SSL certificates to protect their sites have to provide identity information to validate the certificate.

Just remember, anyone can register an SSL certificate - and whilst it does cost money and require some form of identification in most cases, it is not a guarantee that your connection is safe. If you don't trust the site, don't provide your information.

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