A secure server is a web server that supports any of the major security protocols, such as SSL, that encrypt and decrypt messages to protect them against third-party tampering or fraudulent use. Making purchases from a secure web server ensures that a customer’s payment and personal information can be translated into a secret code that is virtually impossible to break. The major security protocols operating today online include SSL, PCT, S-HTTP and IPSec.
SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol that Netscape Communications Corporation developed for the transmission of private documents online. SSL employs a complex cryptographic system that uses two keys to encrypt data – a public key known to everyone and a private key known only to the recipient of the message. Many websites, including Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, support SSL, as well as use this protocol to attain private user information, like the numbers of credit cards and related account data. Traditionally, URLs which require an SSL connection begin with “https” instead of “http” with the additional “s” signifying that it is a secure connection.
Secure HTTP (or S-HTTP) is another protocol for transmitting data securely over the web. While SSL makes a secure connection between a server and client, of which volume of data can be securely sent, S-HTTP, on the other hand, is intended to securely transmit discrete messages. S-HTTP and SSL, in this light, can be seen as complementary technologies. Each of these protocols has been approved as a standard in the field by the Internet Engineering Task Force.
S-HTTP, developed by Enterprise Integration Technologies, is an expansion of HTTP protocol that supports sending data safely over the web. Every web server and browser does not support S-HTTP. SSL is more widespread. S-HTTP and SSL, however, have largely dissimilar goals and designs, so it is ultimately possible to use these protocols together. While SSL is a security protocol intended to launch a safe connection between two different computing devices, the design of S-HTTP is to securely send single messages.
Security Sets and Suites
IPSec, which is an abbreviation for IP Security, is a group of online protocols for security that a body known as Internet Engineering Task Force developed in order to support the exchange of packets at the IP (Internet Protocol) layer securely. IPSec has been set up extensively to execute Virtual Private Networks, or VPN’s, in which public networks connect private ones, such as those used for a company or organization.
There are two encryption modes that IPSec supports, known as Tunnel and Transport. The Transport variation encrypts the payload data portion of every packet only, but the header remains untouched. The significantly safer Tunnel mode encrypts the payload and the header. Where it is received, each of these transmissions is an IPSec-compliant mechanism that decrypts every individual packet of information.
In order for IPSec to operate smoothly, receiving and sending devices have to split a public key. This is done through a protocol called Key Management Protocol/Oakley and Internet Security Association, something that enables the receiver of the information at hand to attain a public key and authenticate the sender of the information with digital certificates.
The translation of data into a secret code is what is known as encryption. Encryption is possibly the most effective way to achieve data security today. In order to read an encrypted file, a user has to have access to a private password that enables them to actually decrypt it. Unencrypted data is known as plain text, whereas encrypted data is known as cipher text. There are two main types of encryption. The first one is called asymmetric encryption or public-key encryption. The second type of encryption is known as symmetric encryption.
The process of decoding data that has been encrypted into a secret format, conversely, is known as decryption. Decryption requires a secret key or password.
Operating a secure server allows merchants to conduct e-commerce or other sensitive exchanges of information and crucial data with a merchant’s visitors and customers in a way that will make them feel more comfortable doing business.
SSL provides two basic ingredients of security. The first is safe passage of information. The customer and merchant data cannot be decoded by any party that might intercept the communications. The second is what as known as server authentication. If a merchant’s server is granted a certificate by a Certificate Authority, the merchant’s customers can protect themselves from being redirected (to another server that is falsely representing itself to be the merchant’s) simply by checking the contents of that certificate.