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Accidental IT: Setting Up SSL Connections

Welcome to Accidental IT, a series of technical how-tos for people whose job descriptions don't necessarily include tech support but who often find themselves doing just that for their co-workers.

Data security is a main focus for many business data environments. The ability to remotely access business information can present opportunities for unauthorized access to information, data theft, or cyber attacks. Since firewalls are configured to allow authorized access both in and out of the corporate servers, attackers look for legitimate connections that can be tapped or duplicated. A relatively simple and effective tool for foiling these attempts is the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connection.

SSL can be set up to protect a variety of connection types including FTP, e-mail, and HTTP. Establishing SSL security is effective for offices using Outlook Web Access (OWA) to connect remote users to Microsoft Exchange Server. This example setup can be applied to protect OWA sessions from prying eyes.

The Certificate

The basis for security is the determination that each participant in any connection between computers is, in fact who they claim to be, and authorized to participate in the connection. Independent organizations acting as Certificate Authorities (CA) carry out the process of validating owners of computers and issuing certificates. If your company already has a certificate in place for its domain you can create one for OWA.

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