One of the most important things you can do when you are running an ecommerce Web site is to install an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is basically an application that encrypts information on your business website. The SSL certificate does two things that helps your customer feel comfortable sharing personal payment information (such as credit card number and address) with your website to make purchases:
- The SSL certificate authenticates who you are. It ensures that you have gone through a process to prove your identity so that customers know that you are who you say you are, and that you are reputable.
- The SSL certificate encrypts sensitive information. When a customer goes to make a payment, the information is transformed. A code is applied. The code is complex, and only the SSL secure server with the right key can decode the message and get the information needed to complete the payment. The SSL certificate means that if anyone else tries to read the credit card number, all they will see is useless strings of seemingly random numbers and letters. Only your Web site will be able to properly interpret the information.
An SSL certificate is very important for anyone who wants to sell goods and services using the Internet. Most people will not buy things from companies that are not properly protected with secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption. If you want to be successful, you must show your customers that you are serious about their privacy.
How do you install an SSL certificate?
Installation of the SSL certificate varies according to your Web host, your platform and even the company you get your certificate from. There are different processes that you have to go through. Many ecommerce Web hosts can help you go through this process. Additionally, you can often get instructions through the server that you are using. In some cases, though, you might have your own Internet Information Services (IIS). While you can create your own SSL certificate, it is unlikely that your customers will trust it. You will still need to go through a third party certification process. Even with the differences in setting up your SLL certificate, there are some basic steps that need to be followed before you can install secure sockets layer (SSL) on your ecommerce Website.
First of all, you need to generate what is known as a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). A CSR is something generated by your server that shows the SSL certificate provider specific information about your computer. The CSR is created to validate your computer’s identity and to attach it to something trustworthy. It is also the information that is used on your SSL certificate to provide further information about your online business to customers who examine the SSL certificate. This is the information that the CSR contains – and that will be on your SSL certificate:
- Common name: This can be the name of your computer plus its domain name. Often it is simply the name of your Web site, or it is the name of the server used for your business’s domain.
- City, state and country that the computer, business or Web site is located or registered in.
- The name of your company organization.
Depending on your platform, there will be different directions for generating your CSR. In order to do it using Microsoft, you will need to have access to the Management Console you have with your IIS. You will need to fill in the proper information after access the Directory Security tab.
After you have generated your CSR, you will have to request your SSL certificate. You will have to contact the company of your choice in order to do this. Many people choose to use VeriSign or eTrust for their SSL certificate generation. Normally, there will be a place that allows you to enter your CSR. For the most part, it is possible to cut and paste what you need into the proper field. It will in all likelihood appear to be gibberish to you, but the server will be able to receive it.
Finally, after you have been verified, the company will send instructions on how to install your SSL certificate. You may receive the SSL certificate via email, or you may be directed to a download page for the SSL certificate. You install the SSL certificate on the Web page you wish to be protected. This is often done via the Server Certificate option in the Directory Security tab. In order to enforce your certificate, it will be necessary to enable port 443 on your ecommerce Web site.
You can get help from your Web developer – or even the secure sockets layer certificate company if you need it. The process isn’t particularly difficult; you just need to know where to go in terms of your server, Web page and platform in order to install things where they need to be.