Alex Fenton

What is an SSL Certificate, and Do I Need One?

August 9, 2017

If you have your own website then you’ll want to make sure you provide the best level of security and confidence for your visitors.

SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates have been around since the 1990s but since then there has been huge growth in the amount of data passed across the internet, including sensitive information.

It is therefore essential that all website owners look to implement an SSL certificate in order to protect themselves, their website visitors, and provide a level of service that internet users will come to expect. Where do you start? Read on to find out more.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL, or ‘secure sockets layer’, encrypts information sent between your website and a visitor's web browser. This means it cannot be read by anyone whilst it’s being sent across the internet.

If you don’t have an SSL it’s like sending a postcard. Anyone who can intercept the postcard whilst in transit is able to read it in full.

You will probably have used an SSL without even realising it. If you’ve ever purchased anything online then your payment details will probably have been submitted using an SSL to make sure they are secure. Although this was once more common in e-commerce sites, it’s now more important than ever for all websites to have SSL enabled.

An SSL certificate is usually signified by a little padlock symbol and a "secure connection" message, and looks like this...

So Why Should I Get an SSL?

There are several reasons why an SSL is important.

Security

In order to protect against the increasing number of hacking attempts, having an SSL certificate provides the best protection for sensitive information. This includes contact forms, login areas, other forms, content management system logins, and any other elements of your site that allows someone to submit information.

Trust

All major browsers are now starting to notify people when they are on a non-secure site. This means that your users will start to see alerts warning them the site is not secure. You probably don’t want this as it will give your visitors the impression that they should be wary about trusting the information on your site, and they may even reconsider whether your organisation is reputable or not. You can see why here...

SEO

Google prefers secure sites so having an SSL certificate in place may provide a small help for your search engine rankings. It’s not a huge factor in search engine rankings but if you are level-pegging with one of your competitors, having an SSL might give you the edge.

How Do I Know if My Site Has an SSL?

Most web browsers display a padlock next to the address bar when you're viewing a site that has an SSL certificate. This gives visitors confidence that the connection is secure. Web addresses of sites with an SSL normally start with 'https://', instead of 'http://' (as shown in the images above).

How Do I Get One?

Installing an SSL certificate is actually a fairly straightforward process. There are, however, some technical details to be aware of so you are best to contact your web developer or hosting provider for assistance.

An interesting fact in favour of our point that all sites should look toward getting an SSL certificate, is a recent GlobalSign development:

GlobalSign recently did a study showing 84% of users would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection. Customer mistrust is growing with the number of online threats and phishing attacks year after year. Security is no longer a nice to have. It's a necessity in today's digital economy.

You can see the results from the survey itself here.

Here at NB, we include SSL certificates with all new websites we develop. For any of our clients who don’t yet have an SSL in place, please get in touch and we can provide you with more information.

August 9, 2017

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