What Is an SSL Certificate, Why Is It Needed, and How to Install It?


Today, it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t use the World Wide Web to organize their leisure, shop, or perform work duties. When launching a web browser, users want to visit only websites that stand out with high reliability and security. Such platforms will not deceive, steal private and payment data, or allow third parties to do so.

To affirm the reliability of web resources, developers obtain a special SSL certificate for the site. What is this? How is the platform’s reliability checked? We will answer these and some other questions in our article.

What Is an SSL Certificate, Why Is It Needed, and How to Install It?What Is an SSL Certificate, Why Is It Needed, and How to Install It?
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Importance of SSL certificates in simple terms

SSL should be understood as a protocol for secure, reliable communication between a website and a browser. Using SSL certificates, transmitting data in an encrypted format is possible, ensuring absolute confidentiality. SSL certificates are necessary to implement the task and properly function, as they are special digital documents confirming the online platform’s reliability and security.

SSL is decoded as a Secure Sockets Layer. This term originally referred exclusively to the initial versions of the protocol, but today Transport Layer Security is more often used. Nevertheless, the name SSL has remained for this protocol.

The document is related to the vast majority of internet platforms. There are specialized centers responsible for generating the digital document and providing the opportunity for resources to implement such a protocol. Usually, this has a certain fee, but free options are also available.

Thanks to Secure Sockets Layer, all information transmitted over the Internet cannot be detected by third parties. Without using such a tool, all data is transmitted exclusively in an open format, meaning it’s accessible to any user “listening” to traffic.

Thinking about creating a website, many entrepreneurs face a rather obvious question – how do SSL certificates work? Such a protocol allows data to be encrypted during transmission, so attackers cannot get and use it for their purposes. Even if the information falls into the hands of third parties, they won’t decrypt or use it. SSL is a basic necessity for web resources that work with the personal data of clients and guests.

The transmitted data is encrypted using two unique virtual keys – secret and public. The public is visible to all web resource visitors, and the private is only to the site owner. The SSL certificate confirms that the key belongs to a specific resource.

The Secure Sockets Layer is considered a kind of electronic signature of the site. Such a tool confirms that Internet users are trying to access a reliable and secure resource, the owner of the encryption key, not fraudsters who can substitute a web address and redirect all requests to third-party platforms.

How to get an SSL certificate? This document is automatically issued to the site owner after generating two keys to implementing safe communication protocols. Without this factor, the tool will not be able to work.

Features of certificate verification

Every site using the Secure Sockets Layer will go through a certificate check. Certain procedures represent the process:

  1. The system or user sends requests to the resource’s web server. This is done through any action performed on the site, such as data exchange, which requires sending requests to the server.
  2. The user’s web search requires the server to give the identification.
  3. Responding to the consumer’s request, the server sends a duplicate document. After that, the search engine scans the SSL for reliability, for example, the validity period, who issued the electronic document, etc. The procedure is similar to how a person checks a pass before entering the office.
  4. If the information confirms the reliability of the certificate, the browser transmits the data to the server. The servers confirm the site’s protection, return the electronic signature, and start connecting via an encrypted protocol. From this moment on, the parties to the communication can exchange data free of charge.

It’s crucial to understand that instead of the consumer and web browser, there are other parties, for example, a platform and its web server. In this case, data transfer between several platforms occurs according to an identical scheme.

What Is an SSL Certificate, Why Is It Needed, and How to Install It?

What Is an SSL Certificate, Why Is It Needed, and How to Install It?
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Purpose of check procedure

This virtual document is a kind of proof of the site’s reliability. Only web resources using this protocol are considered safe by the user’s browser, and therefore permission is given to connect to them via the secure sockets layer.

Performing such a check is necessary because it helps prevent the risky situation of substituting the final web server address with another one when the browser allows the user to exchange data. This probability can jeopardize the security and anonymity of the information, so the certificate allows to avoid risks.

If intruders can steal the digital document and the private part of the key, they will be able to intercept, decrypt, and use the traffic of your web resource for their purposes. Therefore, the key task of the site owner is to ensure the server’s security, prevent hacking by malicious actors, and avoid leakage of confidential information.

Development of events after the end of the check

After the server and Internet browser have agreed on the reliability of the resource, a connection is established through a secure protocol. All information is encrypted, and the reference is made using HTTPS. As a rule, most websites are instantly launched via HTTPS.

The user will see a lock symbol in the web address line if the certificate is confirmed. If the SSL certificate validation reveals problems, the Internet browser will warn about the user’s risks or completely restrict access to the platform.

Types of certificates

While verifying the digital document’s reliability, the system studies several key factors – the type of certificate and who issued it. Let’s delve more into what sorts of SSL certificates exist:

  • Self-signed. These are documents generated by anyone on their web server. They have little use, as only the server where it was created is considered reliable. Therefore, all other resources need information about who issued the certificate and will warn about the threat or limit the possibility of accessing sites. It is not recommended to use self-signed variations.
  • With domain validation. The most reliable are such certificates, which specialized firms issue. These companies are called certification centers. The organizations generate for the web resource a unique pair of keys, which help to encrypt information, and also issue a digital document. They are correctly displayed, all browsers trust them because they are certified by specialized certification centers. Such Certification Authorities carefully check resources to ensure no fraudulent intentions in their creation.
  • With owner validation. It involves the certification center verifying the organization and its domain. This option is suitable exclusively for legal entities such as financial organizations, online stores, and other types of businesses. With extended validation. The most expensive and complex kind of SSL certificate. To get it, you need to go through a detailed check by the Certification Authority, provide some documentation, and answer a number of questions. Internet browsers separately mark resources with this type of validation – the lock symbol is colored green.

There are also special types of certificates used for sites with specific needs.

How is the digital document issued?

All companies that want to attract the target audience’s attention online with security are interested in how to install an SSL certificate. To complete the process, you need to go through several stages:

  1. Preparation (server setup, data check)
  2. Applying to the Certification Authority to issue a certificate of the chosen type
  3. Installation (issuing keys and digital document)
  4. Support (reissuing the certificate after the expiration date)

Typically, SSL can be issued for up to 27 months, but the period varies in each case.


Setting up and installing SSL certificates is an important step, as it determines the security and confidentiality of visitor data on web resources. If you are interested in web development and want to learn more about this profession, we recommend you try the FrontEnd course from DevEducation.

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