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Many good companies have taken the step of having SSL to ease their prospective customersí fears, and so the first thing customers can do is check the safety of the website by reading the safety transaction information provided.  SSL was first developed by Netscape to enable data encryption sent by clients to servers (Larsen 50).  The way people can distinguish whether the site that they access is safe is by looking at a closed padlock icon for both Netscape and Microsoft.  The advantage of having SSL is that it has the capability to encrypt any sensitive information prior to sending the data across the public network.  Since SSL is compatible and comes with most of the popular browsers, e-commerce companies have taken advantage of it.

Paul Heino explains that when a company wants to be an e-commerce type of business, this company needs to apply a certification key from a certificate authority such as VeriSign Incorporated.  This key will be recognized by either Netscape or Microsoft browsers.  He also writes that the certificate authority will check the credibility of the company who applies for the key to make sure that they have not only legitimate server address but also a legitimate business (50).  Another way to get an assurance on the safety issue of websites is to look at the address of the website.  A regular site will start with http://, whereas the secure site will start with https://, where the extra Ďsí stands for the word secure (Goldsborough 22).

According to Shawn Abbort, during initial transmission a userís computer browser has to successfully pass the handshake phase that ensures the clients that they have just accessed a protected connection.  He continues explaining how SSL works when people are about to give out their personal data. First, SSL specifies that the serverís certificate is genuine and truly issued by VerySign Inc.  This verification enables the browser to validate that the website is well protected.  Once the validation is done, the software then transmits from the customerís computer to the website the randomly encrypted data that can be only decrypted by the targeted server (38). 

There are two different kinds of SSL, and according to Hirbenia Bank Online, the standard international browsers usually come with 40-bit encryption as a default. This means that the data is encrypted using a formula that is based on a key. 40-bit uses 240 possible keys to protect the customerís data, or around approximately 1,000,000,000,000 many possible keys.  However, users can upgrade their browser to use a 128-bit encryption key that can create 309,485,009,821,345,068,724,781,056 possible key combinations.

SSL has helped data transmission to be safe and dependable because it may take years for an unauthorized person to crack the code.  While the data is encrypted during transaction to the server, SSL doesnít guarantee that the data will stay scrambled in the server.  This is where the hole in SSL comes, and where hackers may gain access.


Helpful links:

If you have:

Microsoft IE 5, it comes with 128-bit SSL

Microsoft IE 4.01 SP2, it is recommended to upgrade the browser to IE 5.01 by going to this website

Microsoft IE 4.51 (Macintosh), it is recommended to upgrade the browser to IE 5.01 by going to this website

Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher, it is recommended to upgrade the browser to 4.7

Netscape Navigator 4.06 or higher it is recommended to upgrade the browser to 4.08
To upgrade Netscape browser, to the following link




Internet Safety SSL SET Conclusion References