An SSL connection is a form of online security that connects a computer to a secure Internet server and encrypts private information. SSL connections are used by websites that process private data, such as tax, bank and credit card information. SSL connections are reliable and are rarely compromised, according to About.com.
SSL connections work by turning legible data into a scrambled transmission that is virtually impossible to decipher. Only the computer inputting the data and the server receiving the data can view the legible words. Every time that an SSL connection is used, a new symmetric key is required to decipher the encrypted data. The symmetric key is destroyed after the transaction, ensuring that the data remains safe.
When someone is about to send sensitive information through a website, the website requests a secure certificate to send it. When this happens, a padlock logo appears in the browser's status bar, and the "http" in the Web address turns into "https." From there the SSL connection checks to make sure the certificate is valid, it is coming directly from the chosen website, and the website is known and trusted.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets layer. The technology was originally created by Netscape, and it is an integral piece of a larger Internet security protocol called TLS, which stands for Transport Layer Security.