Answers to Your SSL Data Encryption Questions

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) data encryption is a security protocol built on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). At Citrix ShareFile, we take security seriously. We use SSL protocols to protect your data, so we decided to write an FAQ to explain what is and why it's important.

Q&A on SSL data encryption

ShareFile is one of the most secure cloud storage platforms that businesses can use. We specialize in industry-specific compliance tools that meet regulatory requirements. For our clients to transfer files, we rely on SSL and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols. So here's the skinny on how to keep your data safe during transit to the cloud.

Q. What is a protocol?

A protocol is a standard — a set of pre-determined rules for transferring or transmitting information between electronic devices. Computers, smartphones, tablets — any device that goes online must follow the same protocol to connect with another device.

Q. So SSL is like FTP?

Yes and no. Both are protocols, but SSL uses an entirely different set of standards to encrypt the transfer between the two devices. It's much more secure than FTP.

Q. Why is SSL better?

Simple. It's more secure.

FTP standards do not encrypt command codes — a.k.a your login and password. That means during the entire transfer they are visible on the network in plain text. The bigger the file, the longer it's online. Anyone trolling for a way into your systems can snag it. That won't happen with SSL.

Q. So how does SSL actually work?

When two devices want to transfer data, they need to recognize one another. It's called authentication — a way for machines to know if you are who you say you are. Your browser acts as the middleman for that authentication, known as the "SSL Handshake."

For example, you want to use your credit card online to pay for your new ShareFile account. The browser wants our server to identify itself. Our server submits an SSL Certificate — which is digitally signed by a qualified third-party — to prove it's identity. The certificate includes a a long string of random characters called a public key.

The browser checks our certificate and authenticates our identity. Then it creates a second key, called a session key, that meshes with the public key to encrypt the entire transaction.

Q. How do I know a website uses SSL?

Any site secured by the SSL protocol starts with HTTPS, not HTTP. Here's the address of one the pages on our site:

Secure Your Business

We all know to be careful using credit cards online, but security should be more than financial transactions. Companies need to protect all their business intelligence. That's why we offer encrypted email, e-Signature, workflow, routing and 25 customized security settings to provide the most secure file sharing.

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