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Why your website needs an SSL certificate

Photo credit: Tumisu/Pixabay

Have you ever noticed that some website URLs start with HTTP while others start with HTTPS? Maybe you’ve noticed a tiny lock icon in the top left-hand corner of your browser? The simple answer is websites that are HTTPS have an SSL certificate. But what exactly does this mean?

What Is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a secure protocol developed for sending sensitive information over the internet. If a website you are on has an SSL certificate, it means that the site is secure and encrypted. Any data you enter is safely shared with that website and that website only.

But how does SSL actually prevent information theft?

It’s asymmetric (or public-key) encryption. This requires each party to generate a public and private key pair. To simplify this, imagine a padlock on a gate. Anyone can go up to the lock, inspect it and even try to open it with a key. However, only a compatible key can unlock it. Referring back to this example, the padlock is a public key and visible to the general public. However, private keys are exactly that: private. These private keys are used to unlock public keys.

When you fill out a form on a website without an SSL certificate, the information can be intercepted by a hacker. This site would be classified as not secure.

The information you submitted could be anything from a banking transaction to your credit card information. A hacker could intercept your information in a number of ways, one of the most common is when a hacker places a small, undetected listening program on the server that is hosting a website. That program “wakes up” when a website visitor starts typing information. This listening program will then capture the information and send it back to the hacker.

When you visit a website that has an SSL certificate, your browser will form a connection with the web server and bind to it. This instant connection is secure, so that no one besides you and the website where you’re submitting your information can see or access it.

There is no extra manual work required. You simply need to visit a website with an SSL certificate, and your connection will automatically be secured.

Why Is SSL Necessary?

Regardless of whether you are in the business of accepting sensitive information or not, having an SSL certificate is still incredibly important. Here’s why.

SSL and Why It Matters for SEO

In 2014, Google made adjustments to its ever-changing algorithm for SEO rankings. The major change was websites using SSL certificates. Google began and still continues to flag sites without SSL certificates as untrustworthy.

Sites with an SSL certificate receive an SEO boost and are the default result for search engine results. If you want to be findable on Google, having an SSL certificate on your website is critical.

Why SSL Matters for All Online Payments

If you are conducting online transactions through your website, it is imperative that you have an SSL certificate. As an online shop, it’s your primary responsibility to ensure that the information being exchanged over your online store is protected.

How do you prove to your customers that their usernames, passwords and credit card numbers are not being revealed to malicious hackers? Invest in an SSL certificate.

How Google Chrome Has Influenced SSL Site Search Results

According to Statista, Google Chrome is the most popular web browser, only being outranked by Google Chrome for Android. Safari, Edge and Firefox are much further down in popularity. In fact, approximately 58 percent using Chrome or Chrome for Android. On the Chrome browser, you are able to easily spot a site with an SSL certificate by looking for the tiny lock icon near the URL. If a site has an SSL certificate, it shows it’s locked. If a site does not have an SSL certificate, the lock will be open and red text will read “Not Secure.”

Website owners risk customers opting out of visiting their pages should they not have that little lock, and that’s even if there is no sensitive information being passed across it. SSL certificates have become an absolute necessity for any business that wants to be perceived as trustworthy. If you want your business to have financial success, customer conversion and business growth, it is imperative to get this certificate.

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