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What is SSL and what are security certificates?

Data transmission security is a common feature on modern websites. This security is usually made possible via a technology called SSL or secure socket layer. SSL is an industry standard protocol that is used to make a secure connection between a website and a visitor, ensuring safe transfer of data. During an online transaction, SSL turns form data into encrypted data. Encryption is guaranteed via a security certificate that provides a unique encryption key which ensures secure transfer of the data.

Who should use SSL?

If you have sensitive information that is sent and received to and from your company website, and you do not want it to be compromised or copied, then it is recommended to install SSL. For example, at GCOMM our technical support system has SSL installed, as we believe that the nature of the conversations is at times sensitive and by ensuring SSL is installed, we greatly minimise the risk of unauthorised access.

How do you know if a site uses SSL?

When an SSL-enabled connection is established in a web browser, the user will see a lock icon in their browser, indicating that data transferred between the web site and the user’s browser is secure. Typically, SSL protection is visible when shopping online, e-banking and accessing other websites concerned with data security.

How do SSL certificates compare?

Is one certificate better because it costs much more? Technically, no, it’s not the case. You can purchase a certificate for $80 from one authority that does the exact same thing as a certificate sold for $500. It is the exact same SSL encryption. What is the difference apart from the price? Trust is the biggest difference. As Thawte or Verisign have been around for longer than other certificate authorities, more people trust them so they can charge more. The higher fee is essentially the brand cost.

How many domain names can I secure?

Most SSL server certificates will only secure a single domain name or subdomain. For example, a certificate could secure or but not both. The certificate will still work on a different domain name, but the web browser will give an error anytime it sees that the address in the address bar doesn’t match the domain name.

How do you install SSL?

To enable SSL on a website, you will need to get an SSL certificate that identifies you and install it on the server. As SSL certificates are domain/IP specific, you must first purchase a dedicated IP before purchasing or having an SSL certificate installed on your account. SSL certificate installation is performed on the side of the hosting company that provides services for the domain. Whilst it is not super technical, in most cases, technical support will be required to help get your certificate functioning. SSL does not work on a shared IP address.

Summarising SSL

An encrypted SSL connection requires that all data passed between the browser and the web site server be encrypted by the sender and decrypted by the receiver. SSL can prevent unauthorised parties from gaining access to sensitive, confidential, or personal information such as phone numbers or addresses.


For further information on purchasing or configuration please don’t hesitate to contact GCOMM.