SSL in e-commerce: everything you always wanted to know

Do you feel it’s time to install an SSL certificate in your online store? The growing interest in cybersecurity has put the focus on these certificates, which are increasingly in demand.
However, their popularity clashes with the general ignorance about the role of SSL in encrypting and protecting data in digital environments.
But why is it important to implement the SSL certificate for secure purchases, what is its operation, what benefits do they bring to e-commerce stores, how does it relate to SET protocols?
In the following lines, you will discover the answer to these and other questions of interest in SSL certificates in e-commerce. Will you join us?

What is the SSL certificate in e-commerce?

In recent years the acronym SSL has increased its popularity in retail environments, but what exactly do they mean?
The SSL certificate in e-commerce responds to the acronym Secure Sockets Layer. It was developed by Netscape in 1994.
It is defined as a web protocol designed to provide greater security in online communications. This certificate provides a secure channel between two devices (mobile phones, computers, etc.) during data exchange.
Today, most communications, as well as commercial transactions, take place in digital environments. This helps to understand why criminals have turned the Internet into the new scenario of their activities.
Malware, phishing, vishing, DoS attacks, credit/debit card fraud and a host of other threats put the security of e-commerce stores at risk.
This is where SSL certificates come into play in e-commerce. Their purpose is simple: first of all, they encrypt and safeguard data transferred between browsers and servers.
Secondly, they authenticate the server to which the device is connecting. The purpose of this process is to protect online consumers.
Thirdly, these certificates analyze and verify the data sent, in order to prevent malware and other threats from affecting any of the two parties involved in the communication (server and mobile device, for example).

But how does the SSL certificate work? We will explain it through these simple steps:

  • Step 1: When a server (browser) tries to establish a connection with the web server of an e-commerce store, the SSL certificate goes into action, as if it were a border crossing.
  • Step 2: Upon browser request, the e-commerce web server sends a copy of your SSL certificate; something like an authorization, which will show the browser that everything is in order.
  • Step 3: after examining it, the browser will determine whether or not the SSL certificate is valid, sending a message to the web server if so. Then, the session is started and the data transfer is encrypted through SSL.
  • Step 4: Finally, the transfer of encrypted data is shared between the browser and the e-commerce web server. All in a matter of seconds for online consumers.

Clarified what the SSL certificate is and how it works, it is worth answering an obvious question but necessary: why should we install it in our online store?

Why you should install SSL for secure shopping: 4 compelling reasons

Adds a plus to the overall security of e-commerce

The absence of SSL certificates in e-commerce would put at risk the protection of user names, passwords, credit card information, etc.
Although not all cybersecurity in these environments depends on SSL (there are also backups, HTTPS protocols or PCI DSS standards), having this certificate brings added value.

Builds user confidence

When your e-commerce store has an SSL certificate, your online consumers can find out thanks to the green padlock that appears in their browser. They may not know exactly what it means, but not seeing it would make them suspicious.
SSL in ecommerce everything you always wanted to know - Padlock

Users have become more careful in their online shopping routines.

When most online stores sell the product they are interested in, SSL certification and other trust seals begin to be included in their purchase decision.

Safeguard credit card information

Was it necessary to mention this benefit of SSL certificates in e-commerce? Of course not!
But even so, we will underline that its installation allows adding an extra layer of security to credit and debit card payments.
If you also try to process these types of payments through online gateways (PayPal, Stripe, etc.), you will multiply your security as a seller and that of your customers.

Improve search engine positioning

As you probably know, Google and its algorithms never rest – they’re always being updated and perfected!
In 2019 more than ever, they will give more importance to the use of HTTPS protocols and SSL certificates.
This decision seems logical. After all, Google, Bing and other search engines are concerned about improving UX. And for users, feeling safe and secure while surfing is important, isn’t it?
Consequently, these cybersecurity attributes will allow you to gain an advantage over your competitors, as long as they are lagging behind.

What about SET, is it the same as the SSL certificate?

The so-called SET or Secure Electronic Transaction was created in 1996, in order to safeguard credit card information and bank data in commercial and financial transactions.
An astonishing number of prestigious companies and brands intervened in its development: IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, VeriSign, etc., with the impulse of giants such as VISA and MasterCard.
At the end of the last century, banking and financial institutions understood that transactions were the future. Or at least, it had to be if security was up to the task. This is how the SET certificate was born.
Consequently, we can conclude that SET and SSL in e-commerce are different certificates, but not incompatible. In fact, they work towards a common goal, although SET focuses 100% on the protection of bank and credit card data.

Image credit: Christina Tandler


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ECN Team
E-Commerce Nation is The 1st B2B Web Media about E-Commerce in Europe. The team of E-Commerce Explorers help businesses to reach new potential market through delivering useful content. Let us know in comment if you enjoyed this content.