As a website owner, you’ve probably heard the words “SSL certificate” getting thrown around a lot. When you’re first getting your website built all of this technical jargon can seem like you’re trying to learn another language.
However, if you plan on having your customers input their private information online, then you need to utilize the additional security measures provided by an SSL certificate.
Plus, SSL certificates are quickly becoming a necessity. According to Google, SSL and HTTPS should be used everywhere across the web. Sites not using SSL will be marked as unsecured if they’re viewed using the Google Chrome browser.
But, SSL certificates can do a lot more than just give you a rankings and trust boost.
Below we highlight what an SSL certificate is, how it works, and what situations it would be smart to encrypt your website with SSL.
The Importance of Online Security and Your Reputation
Trust is so important on the Internet. Any site that acquires a reputation for unreliability, insecurity or dishonesty can expect to see traffic dwindle to zero.
On the other hand, a site that can prove it takes security seriously can attract more visitors.
That’s always a good thing, whether your web site is for a nonprofit, small business, or eCommerce.
Surfers and online shoppers also increasingly recognize the on-screen presence of a small padlock icon or a website address that begins with “https://…” as signs that they can trust the site they’re connecting to. That’s SSL or ‘secure sockets layer’ in action.
The biggest reason websites use SSL is to protect sensitive information that’s sent between computers and servers. If information like credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information isn’t encrypted this leaves it open for hackers to easily step in and steal the information.
With the SSL certificate. your information is unreadable to anyone who attempts to steal it. The only people able to decipher it are the intended recipients at the other end of the connection.
With an SSL certificate, your customers can do business with you knowing that their information is going to be safe from identity thieves and potential hackers.
What is an SSL Certificate?
First, SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. At the core, this technology helps to secure an internet connection and protect any data that’s transferred between a browser and a web server.
By encrypting and securing any data that passes through this connection you help to prevent any data theft or hacking. Plus, if any data is stolen from this connection it’ll be impossible to decipher since it’s encrypted.
An SSL connection needs two systems in order to be active. Think a server and a website browser, or a server to server connection.
With this connection, any data that’s transferred between the two will actually be impossible to read. The encryption algorithms will scramble any data being sent over the connection, so if the information is compromised it’ll be impossible to decipher.
In the past, SSL was commonly used to protect and secure sensitive information, like banking details, credit card numbers, and sensitive personal information. However, today with stricter privacy standards, almost every website can benefit from installing an SSL certificate to protect any user information.
How Does an SSL Certificate Work?
SSL operates between a visitor’s browser and your site or application. It’s an industry-standard mechanism that ensures the encryption of data being passed backward and forwards so that no unauthorized person can spy on the information and hack it.
It also prevents cybercriminals from diverting visitor traffic to their own site using their own encryption and gaining access to your data that way. All major web browsers have SSL capability built in.
The process of enabling an SSL certificate on your site is quite simple.
First, you’ll install an SSL certificate on your server. A web browser will connect to your server, see the SSL certificate and initiate the SSL connection. This will then encrypt any information that passes between a browser and your server.
Here’s the process broken down a little further and the steps in place to guarantee site security:
- An SSL handshake occurs once the web browser validates the presence of an SSL certificate on the server.
- The server then sends all of the necessary information including the type of SSL certificate present, the level of encryption to use, and more.
- If the SSL certificate is valid, then the secure connection begins.
All of this takes place instantly. It might seem fairly technical, but if you open up a website with an SSL certificate installed you’ll never even notice that the above steps occurred.
At Webpress, we recommend that all of our clients install and insure their web security with an SSL Certificate. Our SSL installations are encrypted with 256-bit technology to insure that your customers and visitors will experience a secure environment. Contact us today to learn more about security with regards to your website.