A SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a certificate in a digital file format that authenticates the identity or ownership of a website or websites. All data that flows to or from that website is encrypted using SSL technology. Thus no eaves dropping by unwanted people or authorities. The process of Encryption scrambles data into a unreadable format that can only be returned to a readable format with the proper decryption key, the certificate.
There are a number of types of certificates, but 3 main categories, viz: cert. linking to a domain, cert. linking to a business and a cert. linking to a domain and business.
It thus serves as an electronic "passport" in a way that establishes an online entity's credentials when doing business on the Web.
When a user sends confidential information to a Web server, the user's browser accesses the server's digital certificate and establishes a secure connection.
A SSL certificate contains the following information: