I suspect that "access to Secure Server 128 Bit SSL" means they will let you use SSL, iff you get your own certificate. For learning about SSL, you could get a free certificate from CAcert.org.
Regarding encryption strengths, the higher the better but 128 bit is usually considered sufficient for most applications at the moment, and IIRC that is the highest strength that Internet Explorer supports. However, some browsers are better - the excellent Firefox supports at least 256 bit.
To clarify Mr. Herer's comment: algorithms such as MD5 or SHA-1 are used for hashing data such as passwords to store it for comparison (it cannot be retrieved easily). For securing a connection (necessary if important data such as credit card details are being transmitted) you need to use SSL.