What is an SSL certificate?
In a nutshell, it is a security measure.
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate stored on a web server and is used to authenticate the identity of a website. It works by establishing a secure connection between a user’s web browser and the web server. Any data sent via this connection is encrypted to prevent MITM (Man-in-the-middle) attacks.
An SSL certificate enables a website to be accessed via the https:// protocol instead of the original http:// (Hyper text transfer protocol). Web browsers will also display a padlock icon alongside the URL making secure websites easily identifiable by users.
Jérôme Segura, a security researcher at Malwarebytes states:
HTTPS is the cornerstone of our online security and privacy, whether we are doing banking or sending family photos….without encryption, our private information can be intercepted, manipulated, and stolen by attackers sitting on the same network.
Do I need an SSL certificate?
The consensus regarding SSL certificates has changed. It used to be… if your website sells products and accepts credit or debit card details then a valid SSL is required. However websites have come along way since then and users (and hackers) are more web savvy than ever.
It’s commonplace for websites to have contact forms, subscription forms, login forms, payment gateways or some kind interactive feature requiring information to be entered by a user. To ensure this information is secure your website should have an SSL to encrypt this data.
In addition, an SSL certificate is considered to be the industry standard for website security. It’s likely https:// will be the default requirement on the internet in the near future or at the very least https will be the expected standard by internet users.
What are the benefits of an SSL certificate?
The obvious benefit of an SSL certificate is your website user’s data is transferred securely.
But what does this really mean?
Simple, it creates a foundation of trust. It’s crucial for websites, particularly online stores to have a trusting environment where users feel confident to enter personal or payment information. The absence of the padlock alongside a URL in your browser instils a lack of trust and potentially a lost customer or sale.
According to a survey by GlobalSign, “84% of website visitors would abandon a purchase if they knew the data was going to be sent over an insecure connection” – resulting in lost sales for e-commerce sites.
SSL certificates also help improve data collected by Google Analytics because the referral information is retained giving you greater insights about your website visitors.
In addition to the above, SSL certificates can have a positive impact on the SEO ranking of your website. It’s not a silver bullet solution by any means, in fact the improvement will be marginal… but any improvement is worth while.
It may change in the future, but for SEO rankings, Google do not care which type of SSL certificate you use on your website, rewards will be the same.
There seems to be a confusing myriad of SSL certificates on offer however you only need to be interested in two of them:
1) Standard Validation SSL
2) Extended Validation SSL
A Standard Validation SSL is fine for most websites but for an additional cost you might want to consider the Extended Validation SSL purely for the improved appearance in the address bar of the browser.
Your company name appears in green alongside the padlock and URL of your website adding more trust signals to your website visitors.
How do I get an SSL certificate for my website?
There is a vast array of SSL certificate providers available and the cost will vary. Search on Google and shop around, however if you’re happy with your current web host or domain registrar, they’re a good place to start.
Once you have bought your SSL certificate, it will need to be installed. If web server or domain management is not your thing, you will need to contact your hosting provider for assistance. Most hosts have a fixed fee for tasks like this which should cost no more than £100.
In summary, it’s likely you will incur a fee to buy and install an SSL Certificate however the benefits and trust instilled in your website visitors for doing so are far greater.
If you’re keen to learn more, or you would like to make your site more secure you can call us on 02380 275253.