History of SSL Certificate Encryption
Encoding information to protect it from being viewed by everyone is not something that is new. In fact, even in the very earliest times man tried to send messages that were public in their transmission but that could only be read and understood by a select few. This created the starting point for the modern definition of SSL.
Today, this is know by everyone as cryptography. SSL certificate encryption is just a modern and much more advanced option in this transfer of secure information. There is actually a very interesting history in encryption technology and one that is worth taking a closer look at to understand how we arrived at our current levels of hacker-proof secure data transmission.
It is assumed by archaeologists that the first real attempts to put information into a code or a cipher are found on clay tablets that are believed to date back to 1500 BCE. Interestingly enough, this may have also been the first trade secret as the message is thought to be the list of ingredients to create a specific pottery glaze, something that would have been critical back in that time.
The most readily recognized ciphers, the Atbash ciphers, were first developed by Hebrew scholars between 500 and 600 BCE. These are the ciphers that include substituting one letter for another, traditionally reversing the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In our alphabet, that would mean substituting the letter z for every letter "a" and so on.
All through history important information, including the movement of troops in war, information known only to rulers of countries and other important documents were encoded or encrypted. There are an amazing number of recognized ciphers throughout time, but these were all based on human writing and translation. Virtually all had a key that the writer and the reader had to share to communicate.
During World War ll, the German armies began to use electromechanical cipher machines. These were actually used before the war but they came to be a trusted during the war as a source of technology for transmitting highly sensitive information without the need of human couriers.
The most recognized is the famous Enigma machine, which was actually developed just after WW l and used for commercial purposes. This machine used several different rotors that were all connected but independently positioned. Without knowing the correct position of the rotors, the individual substitute cipher could not be easily translated.
Jump forward to 1975 and the first DES or Data Encryption Standards was officially developed. This was designed by a team at IBM under the direction of what is now NIST or the National Institute of Standards and Technology. However, it still wasn't nearly as secure as the modern SSL certificate encryption and only featured a 56-bit key, which wasn't difficult to break by specific entities.
In 1994 Netscape developed the Secure Socket Layer to provide an encrypted path for data between a client and the server. This was based on the new AES or Advanced Encryption Standards accepted by the NIST after DES was found to be less secure with the advancement of technology.
In June 2003 the United States Government started using AES to send classified information using 128 and 256-bit encryption. There have been several versions of SSL released, with TSL or Transport Layer Security the official name of the new versions.
From strictly a specialized or niche technology, the use of encryption for all types of data transmitted between a client and a server is now common practice. This is the heart of SSL certificate encryption, to provide a secure method for websites to transmit information to the server that cannot be intercepted, which is still the same goal that the ancient Egyptians had thousands of years ago.
Today, this is handled by technology with the use of asymmetrical encryption. This allows a public and a private key to both encrypt end decrypt information passing between the site and the server. The decryption at the server is completed by the private key, so only the one server is able to access the encrypted information that is transmitted.
There is also the option for symmetric encryption, which works the same but only uses one key. This type of encryption uses keys that are 128 or 256 bits to send information in an extremely safe way between a device and the server.
All of our Comodo SSL certificates use 2048 bit signatures for our SSL certificate encryption. This is a combination of 617 different digits that create both the public and the private keys, making them virtually impossible to hack. To find out more about our encryption about any of our SSL certificates, see us online at https://ssl.comodo.com/. We can also talk to you in person if you prefer, our number is +1 888 266 6361.