How does an SSL certificate work?

This article will explain how an SSL works

Simply put, SSL certificates create an encrypted connection between your website and a web server so that any confidential information, such as payment or login details, can be transmitted securely.

Here’s a more detailed run-down of how they work:

  • A visitor connects to a website that’s secured with an SSL certificate. Their browser messages the web server, requesting that the server identify itself to initiate and establish the communication, known as the ‘handshake’ process
  • The web server sends a copy of its SSL certificate to the visitor’s browser
  • The visitor’s browser checks the SSL certificate. If the certificate is valid and has been issued by a trusted authority, the browser will create and send an encrypted session key back to the web server. If not, the communication fails
  • The web server decrypts the session key using its private key and sends back an encrypted acknowledgement, along with the session key
  • The visitor’s browser decrypts the acknowledgement and encrypts all data by using the session key