A lot of energy goes into keeping our personal data safe online, although many people might be unaware of it. The standard and most effective way of keeping our data safe is through basic encryptions, which were first developed in the early years of the internet. SSL – a Secure Socket Layer – was first launched in 1995, and has since become the standard in terms of anonymising online exchanges of information. In this article, we take a look at how SSL and similar initiatives have made the internet a better place.
Why an SSL Encryption is Important
On the surface, we can all rest assured that our data is safe, as long as it is not exchanged with someone who has non-benevolent intentions. If companies or other organisations on the internet were to use our personal data to hack into our accounts, their endeavours would be revealed immediately and their business would collapse. That is true – and why most people stick to platforms they trust, such as popular online shops or well-known organisations.
However, even though both parties might have the best of intentions, breaches are still possible if the best security measures are not in place. This is where the issue of third parties pops up. Any online exchange of information, such as personal data and credit card information, passes through different channels when transmitted online. Without proper security measures, harmful third parties can suddenly access your personal data. This is why the SSL encryption was invented.
Traditional HTTP-connections transmitted online data in plain text, which was quickly identified as an omnipresent security breach around the internet. SSL converts this into encrypted lines of data, which has paved the way for online businesses to flourish, as they can now ensure the safety of their customers.
How SSL Encryption Works
SSL is an acronym for Secure Socket Layer and is the most popular form of online data encryption. When you access a website online, the HTTP-part of the website’s URL is likely to have an s next to it: https. Whether the s shows up or not, your browser is likely to tell you whether it’s a secure website or not. In popular browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox, a little log shows up to the left of the website’s URL. Furthermore, if it’s an unencrypted connection, your browser will likely inform you of it, while warning you against transmitting personal data. Some browsers warn against visiting these websites altogether.
To understand what SSL means in practice, things become slightly more complicated. SSL is a type of protocol that sets up an encrypted connection between you and the website (server) you are visiting. When you enter your data on an unencrypted website, your data is transmitted in plain text without an encrypted layer. With an encrypted connection, an informal agreement is made between the web browser and the server in question to set up the encrypted connection.
The SSL certificate that now develops contains a few different elements. Firstly, the certificate tries to confirm the identity of the website visited. Secondly, it checks the digital signature of the authority that issued the certificate, to begin with. Thirdly, it also hands over the website’s own public encryption key. If everything matches, the encrypted connection goes ahead. This is usually the case – but a website might pose with an encryption key that isn’t theirs, or even pretend to be another website then it is. These are some of the security breaches the web browser and the server handles through the issuing of the SSL certificate, to ensure that no security breaches develop.
Why Encrypted Connections are Important to Online Businesses
Unlike unencrypted connections, SSL allows for the safe and secure transmission of personal data, such as logins, card numbers and personal identification numbers. Businesses, e-Commerce shows and other high authority institutions on the internet have therefore embraced it. The BBC, for example, has been using an encrypted SSL-connection for years, citing its role as a “trusted destination on the internet”.
All actions on the internet require a transmission of data, which means that an encrypted connection is always useful and relevant. However, in some cases, it goes from being useful to being absolutely necessary. SSL is particularly important to companies that process a lot of personal and sensitive information. One prominent example is the online casino industry, which exchanges personal identification numbers, credit card information and addresses with its customers on a daily basis.
Licensed and regulated casinos always use encrypted connections, as protecting the players’ data is equally important to operators and customers alike. If you want a complete list of 100% secure online casinos in the UK, you can visit Betpal.com, a casino and betting comparison site. Using casinos that don’t employ the proper security measures compromises your personal information and leave it open to potential breaches.
The Future of Online Data Encryption
Today, online data encryption is not simply a question of secure and encrypted connections. Users of the internet around the world have started paying major attention to how they protect their data online, also while communicating with friends. This has led to a growth in encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp and Wickr. Meanwhile, companies are more than ever being targeted by sophisticated cyberattacks, which has forced them to update their encryption standards.
It has also become a political question. In the European Union, the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has spelled major difficulties for companies across the continent. It has also challenged international actors, as everyone operating in Europe needs to comply with national legislation. Businesses have started turning towards end-to-end encrypted communication (also known as E2EE). Meanwhile, traditional email services are becoming outdated as companies seek to protect their data from cyberattacks and governments alike.
Secure Socket Layers (SSL) is therefore just one element in a worldwide battle for better data encryption and internet protection. Everyone values privacy and protected data, and SSL has been at the core of this project for more than two decades.