SSL certificates an acronym for Secure Socket Layer are now essential for any web presence. They provide a secure channel from the web browser and device to the web server. This is crucial for any information being sent to the server such as personal information and payment details.
Millions of people shop online every day; websites using SSL certificate but what exactly is an SSL certificate? And how does it help in securing our information on web?
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client—typically a web server (website) and a browser, or a mail server and a mail client (e.g., Outlook).
It is safe to say that SSL is the backbone of your website security, protecting your visitors and their sensitive information as it bounces from one server to another on the internet. Even if your website does not handle transactions or credit cards, you still need SSL as it provides privacy and security for your website and your visitors.
When an SSL certificate is installed on your website, any information sent over your website becomes unreadable to anyone except the server to which it is being sent. This way, you protect your users from hackers and identity thieves.
Here is a quick overview of what installing an SSL certificate on your website will provide:
• SSL encrypts sensitive data
An SSL certificate encodes data i.e. encrypts it to render it unreadable by those who don’t have the key.
When a client reaches a website with an SSL Certificate installed the client’s web browser and the web server perform what is referred to as the “SSL handshake.” This is the process where the client checks the validity of the SSL Certificate, and then negotiates the details of the encrypted connection with the server. Afterwards, the client and server exchange session keys so that they can begin encrypted communication with one another.
• SSL provides identity affirmation
The second primary task of an SSL certificate is to provide authentication to a website. Identity verification is one of the most important aspects as far as web security is concerned.
When you want to install an SSL certificate, you must go through a validation process set by an independent third party called a Certificate Authority (CA). Depending on the type of certificate, the CA verifies the identity of you and your organization. Once you have proved your identity, your website gets trust indicators vouching for your integrity. When users see them, they know who they’re talking to.
• Improves search engine ranking
Search engine optimisation is what gets your site to the top of Google’s search results.
A few months ago, Google updated its algorithm and added HTTPS as a ranking signal. If your website is secured with SSL certificate and web URL starts with a secure HTTPS protocol, then you will get the ranking advantage in search engines.
Using SSL dramatically improves the perception that users have of your brand. When your site has signed by a trusted third party certificate, your customers are ensured that they are indeed on a valid and trusted site. They will be less worried about security issues and will engage with you more effectively.
• Improves site speed
Your site ranking is also partially determined by site speed. The faster your website, the more people will visit, and the higher you’ll appear in search results.
So it’s a good thing that shifting to HTTPS also improves the loading speed of pages—despite what you’ve heard. It’s a myth that adding an SSL certificate slows everything down. In fact, there’s a whole site dedicated to demonstrating how much faster HTTPS is, compared to HTTP.
Except that’s not the whole truth. The margin between HTTP and HTTPS is slight, but the latter is often, in reality, a relatively-new protocol called HTTP/2. And HTTP/2 really is faster than HTTP and standard HTTPS.
You’ll benefit from increased performance, and so will your audience. Users are more likely to return if they know everything loads quickly.
• Increases customer trust
Customers are becoming more and more security aware. As a lot of sensitive information, such as bank passwords and personal details, are exchanged in a cloud platform, a secure authentication mechanism must be provided to ensure data protection.
A secure website also increases the trust signal of your website and boosts the credibility of your business in the eyes of your customers. They know that their information is secure and so will be willing to do more business with you.
With a certificate, you’re sending out a message to your readers and customers, proving to them that you take them seriously. You take their privacy seriously. And by doing so, you’re instilling confidence.
Without an SSL certificate, you’re waving a red flag to your readers, which may put them off future visits.
Not having a secure website can drastically affect your sales and cause a huge drop in your revenue. One good example is when you use Google Chrome, it will inform users when they’re not on a secure website.
• An SSL certificate meets PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance standards
If you want to securely process credit card payments with proper encryption, an SSL certificate will open the door to instant payments and higher profitability. In other words if you have no SSL certificate you will not be able to process credit cards.
Big or small, e-commerce or blog, it doesn’t matter: every site needs solid security measures.
At the end of the day, an SSL certificate, although it comes at an extra cost is a win-win situation. For the small price of this essential add-on, you can guarantee website visitors privacy and the security of their data. And your customers will have more faith in your business, seeing as you take their security seriously.
It’s a vital part of the internet. If you don’t have one already, it really is time you obtained an SSL certificate.