SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. SSL is an industry standard and is used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers.
To be able to create an SSL connection a web server requires an SSL Certificate. When you choose to activate SSL on your web server you will be prompted to complete a number of questions about the identity of your website and your company. Your web server then creates two cryptographic keys - a Private Key and a Public Key.
How SSL Works
When a Web browser tries to connect to a website using SSL, the browser will first request the web server identify itself. This prompts the web server to send the browser a copy of the SSL Certificate. The browser checks to see if the SSL Certificate is trusted -- if the SSL Certificate is trusted, then the browser sends a message to the Web server. The server then responds to the browser with a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an SSL encrypted session. This allows encrypted data to be shared between the browser and the server. You may notice that your browsing session now starts with https (and not http).