WHAT IS SSL?

Protocols

Information and communication on the Internet travel thru specific protocols, called ports. Here are some examples:

  • Port 80 is used when you view a web site (http protocol)
  • Port 25 is used to send e-mail (smtp protocol)
  • Port 21 is used to upload files to your web site (ftp protocol)
  • Port 443 is used for sending secured web pages encrypted using the SSL (secured socket layer) protocol

    How do we access these protocols?

    Normally, we are not aware that we are using a specific port number. But we indicate the protocol by the URL we enter
  • http://www.mysite.com indicates to use the http protocol (port 80)
  • ftp://ftp.mysite.com indicates to use the ftp protocol (port 21)
  • https://www.mysite.com indicates to use the SSL protocol (port 443)

    What does using SSL do for me?

    Operating a secure server (SSL) allows you to conduct e-commerce or other sensitive exchanges of data with your visitors in a way that will hopefully make them feel more comfortable doing business with you.

    SSL provides two basic ingredients of security:
  • Safe Passage of Information: Your data cannot (we hope) be decoded by any party that might intercept the communications.
  • Server Authentication: If your server is granted a certificate by a CA (Certificate Authority), your customer's can protect themselves from being directed to another server that is pretending to be yours by checking the contents of the certificate.

    HOW DOES SSL WORK?

    Unlike displaying a regular web page, when a person requests a secured web page (https://), the browser and the server must go through a series of requests and acknowledgements, which take place automatically. Here is a brief outline of what happens:

  • You enter a URL such as https://www.mysite.com in your browser window. The https indicates that you want your browser to initiate a secure session with the server
  • The server responds by sending the site's certificate
  • The browser checks the certificate information for validity
  • The browser then creates a session key, which is encrypted with the server's public key, and sends it to the server
  • The server then decrypts this information using it's private key

    Both the browser and server are now using the same secret session key, and the little lock icon will appear on your browser window. All further information sent between the browser and the server will be automatically encrypted, as long as you continue using the https:// protocol.

    USING SSL

    Here are some coding examples for implementing secured pages.

    When the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) feature has been enabled for your account, you can use SSL to encrypt any page on your site. For example, to call a form on your site, you would use the following:
    <a href = "https://www.ssl123.com/joeshmoe/form.html">file</a>

    You can SSL encrypt a CGI script while calling it with the following:
    https://www.ssl123.com/joeshmoe/cgi-bin/something.pl

    You must reference the page through the hostname of the SSL server (the name that is on the digital certificate) or you will receive the "certificate does not match error".)

    Note, most hostnames must begin with the "www" prefix as in www.ssl123.com

    (All links on the page that are being referenced via the "https" protocol must either be "relative" links, or they must start with "https". They should not start with "http". If they do start with "http", the page will show a "this information is not secure" error message.)

    Also, if you are referencing a directory with the "https" protocol (for example, you want the "index.html" page to load), you must put a forward slash after the directory name. Examples:
    Incorrect: https://www.ssl123.com/kin27327/
    Correct: https://www.ssl123.com/kin27327/

    How do I buy a SSL cert and how much is it?

    HostingCity has partnered up with GeoTrust, the world's second largest digital certificate provider, of which more than 70,000 companies in over 140 countries employ GeoTrust Technology.

    HostingCity offers 3 types of digital certificates at about 70% less what Versign's digital certificates cost, and both companies provide similar products. Please contact sales@hostingcity.com should you require a SSL certificate.

  • QuickSSL
    - A low-priced 128-bit SSL certificate delivered to you in 10 minutes! Real-time two-factor telephone authentication
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  • QuickSSL Premium
    - This 128-bit SSL certificate includes a security seal for your site and real-time, two-factor telephone authentication
    - 1-year price: $109.95
  • True Business ID
    - Provides end-to-end internet security protection for doing business online. Secure transactions through SSL and business validation from True SiteŽ - so you're completely covered!
    - 1 year price: $119.95