SSL Certificates - What? Why? How?
Times are changing and in 2017 a significant change is the importance of SSL certificates. Search engines are making them a priority and privacy laws require any information provided to your business to be kept safe and secure. Cybersecurity continues to be an issue across the board as businesses (and people) become more accustomed to storing and transferring data online.
What are SSL certificates then? Secure Socket Layer certificates verify that the link between your web server and the users browser is established with an encrypted link. Assuring that all data passed from the consumer to you is kept private and secure. The certificate is kept as a small data file on your server and once installed it activates the padlock, or green bar, and HTTPS application protocol.
SSL certificates work by using something called a public key cryptography, an encryption algorithm to encrypt the web traffic on a website that the receiving server can decrypt. The key is actually 2 keys – a public key and a private key. Both are long strings of numbers that are applied to the data submitted from the website and to the server itself. When a consumer submits their credit card details through your website for payment the public key is automatically applied to the data. Upon receipt to the server the private key is applied to the encrypted data which decrypts it so the server can read the details.
Many website owners ask if it is necessary to have SSL certificates installed on their websites, and there is a simple answer – Yes. Why? Because SSL certificates protect any and all sensitive information that travels through your website. Web users tend to use similar login details for all of their accounts. If your website is hacked and their login details are leaked, you could get in to a legal mess over it. This is why many social media platforms are now incorporating SSL certificates as standard.
Not only does SSL certificates protect data passed through your website but it also increases your Google rankings – Google loves secure websites. SEO for the win! Customers are more likely to purchase from a website that holds a padlock or HTTPS, and therefore it improves the conversion rates of visitors to your website.
To install a SSL certificate, you need to purchase one either from your host or through a trusted Certificate Authority such as GlobalSign. These are then directly installed on to your website server and effective immediately. If your certificate is not from a trusted source, the end user will receive a notification warning them away from your website. If you have a WordPress based website then it is necessary to redirect or update the URLs to include the HTTPS prefix. This can be done by your web designer.
Do not let the cost of an SSL certificate put you off purchasing one. Secure your website with an SSL certificate and see the difference it has on your web presence.