What is an SSL certificate?

Spotting one

Ever noticed that some website URLs start with http:// while others start with https://? Or perhaps you’ve seen the green little padlock on the left-hand side of the address bar and wondered what it was? This is an SSL.

What is an SSL certificate?
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What is an SSL certificate?

These little encrypted connections have had web users scratching their heads over recent months, asking, “Why do I need SSL? What will it do for me?” These are important questions for anyone to understand, and we’re here to break them down for you.

SSL stands for “secure sockets layer” which doesn’t give much away, does it? Allow us to explain. According to official website SSL.com, “SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remain private.”

So in a nutshell, the Secure Sockets Layer is used to secure the data communicated over the internet between your computer and the destination servers. This could be something like the password you use to log in on Facebook or your debit card information you input when you’re online shopping. Basically, any important information you wouldn’t want others to know.

Once you’ve hit the submit button on a data form the information you have just entered can then be intercepted by any hacker on an unsecure website. However, with an SSL certificate in place your browser will form a connection with the webserver, look at the SSL certificate, and bind together your browser and the server. Just like how we use different keys to lock and unlock doors; SSL certificates use keys to validate and protect sensitive information from the wrong hands.

Should I use SSL?

If you have a website, specifically an e-commerce site, then an SSL is absolute must – no questions asked. This will not only help to keep your customers’ information safe, but it’ll also put their minds at ease. Something which is invaluable when building relationships with your customers in this digital age. Did you know that 84% of users would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection? This is an indication that website insecurity could potentially impact sales.

If you have a brochure site, or do not require any personal information to access certain areas of your website, then you are in no immediate rush to upgrade to an SSL certificate however we recommend installing one to provide your site with an authentication.

In 2017 Google started a campaign to encourage safe transmission of all information across the web which includes labelling any websites that do not have SSL as “Not Secure.” They have also announced that having an SSL Certificate is one of the easiest things site owners can do to boost SEO rankings. With SSL now firmly factored into its algorithm, its possible that websites without an SSL could be penalised in the rankings.

Other benefits

Besides this, there are more reasons why SSL security is important to both site owners and users alike.

With SSL enabled you will build a trust with the people visiting your site while ensuring their information is safe. This is valuable to your ongoing relationship with your customers as your SSL-enabled website will clearly show that you value their safety and protect their information from potential hackers.

For any websites that take a form of online payments, a secure connection is required. Whether that is via credit card payments or through third-party payment processors such as Worldpay or PayPal. In recent months, however, the web has also seen an increasing number of non-ecommerce websites using SSL encryption on their websites, with big players such as the BBC, The Guardian, and Facebook ratifying the change even though they do not directly sell through their websites.

This is due to their susceptibility to data security. After all, it’s not just credit card details that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, information such as email addresses and social media log-in details are also at risk. If your website encourages visitors to sign up to any memberships, or fill out any contact forms, then SSL encryption should be considered to safeguard this information.

In conclusion

SSL certificates are easy to source and can be implemented in a short time frame which makes it a very small investment to not only safeguard your site but to also provide peace of mind to your customers and prevent any possible phishing attacks.

Want to know more about SSL, its benefits, or if your site is eligible for certification? Get in touch and we will be able to help. Give us a call on 0151 709 4930 or email [email protected] and we’ll talk you through the process.

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