SSL made its debut in 1994 as a way to cryptographically secure e-commerce and other sensitive internet communications. A private key at the heart of the system allows website operators to prove that they are the rightful owners of the domains visitors are accessing, rather than impostors who have hacked the users’ connections. Countless websites also use SSL to encrypt passwords, emails and other data to thwart anyone who may be monitoring the traffic passing between the two parties.
It’s hard to overstate the reliance that websites operated by Google, PayPal, Microsoft, Bank of America and millions of other companies place in SSL. And yet, the repeated failures suggest that the system in its current state is hopelessly broken.