Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is a security protocol that is used on the Internet. Originally developed by Netscape for use with its Navigator browser, SSL uses public key encryption to establish secure connections over the Internet. SSL provides three key services:

  • Server authentication SSL allows a user to confirm a server's identity. For example, you can use this ability when you are purchasing something online with a credit card but first want to verify the server's identity.

  • Client authentication SSL allows a server to confirm a user's identity. This functionality is often used when a server is sending sensitive informationsuch as banking information or sensitive documentsto a client system and wants to verify the client's identity.

  • Encrypted connections It is possible to configure SSL to require all information sent between a client and a server to be encrypted by the sending software and decrypted by the receiving software. Doing this establishes private and secure communication between two devices. In addition, SSL has a mechanism to determine whether the data sent has been tampered with or altered in transit.

You can see SSL security on the Web when you access a secure universal resource locator (URL). Secure websites begin with https:// instead of the http://. Hypertext Transfer Protocol over SSL (HTTPS) connections require a browser with built-in security features to establish a secure connection.