On January 2, 2022
Have you ever noticed that some website URLs start with HTTP while others begin with HTTPS? Maybe you’ve seen a tiny lock icon in the top left corner of your browser? What exactly does it all mean?
Websites that are HTTPS have a website SSL certificate installed.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a secure protocol developed for sending sensitive information over the internet, which means that if a site you are on has an SSL certificate, it is encrypted and safe from being intercepted. Any data you enter will be safely shared with that website and only that website.
How does SSL prevent information theft?
Breaking down what SSL is: asymmetric (or public-key) encryption. This requires a key pair to be generated for each party. Imagine a padlock on a gate– anyone can go up to the lock and inspect it, but only the correct key can open it. In this example, the padlock is a public key– they are visible to everyone in general. But private keys are just that: private! Private keys unlock public ones.
If you fill out a form on the internet without an SSL certificate, hackers can intercept the information. This site would then be classified as not secure.
You could enter the information for a banking transaction or your credit card information. A hacker can intercept it in many ways; one of the most common is when a hacker places an undetectable and small listening program on the server hosting a website. This listening program wakes up as soon as someone starts typing their personal information into that site’s fields- then transmits all collected data back to the hacker!
When you visit a website with an SSL certificate, your browser will form a secure connection with the webserver and bind to it. This is so no one besides you and the site where you’re submitting your information can see or access it.
When you visit a website with SSL certification, your connection will be automatically encrypted. There is no manual work required.
Why is SSL so essential?
You might think, “I’m not accepting sensitive information through my website.” Regardless of whether you’re in the business of accepting delicate information or not, having an SSL certificate is still incredibly important.
Website SSL Certificate and SEO
In 2014, Google made changes to its ever-changing algorithm for SEO. The major change? Websites using SSL certificates. Sites without the certificate will be flagged by Google as untrustworthy and left with lower rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Websites with an SSL certificate are given a boost in SEO ranking. This, combined with the improved security of an encrypted site, makes it necessary for you to have one if you want your website to be found on Google.
SSL and Online Payments
When conducting online transactions, it is imperative that you have an SSL certificate. Without one, your customers are at risk of their usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers being revealed to malicious hackers. To protect these types of transactions, having an SSL certificate is necessary.
SSL and Consumer Trust
An SSL certificate has become an absolute necessity for any business which wants to be trusted by consumers nowadays. Did you know that Google Chrome is the most popular web browser? Almost 65% of internet users use it. On chrome, sites with SSL certificates are easily spotted by a tiny lock icon next to the URL. If a site has an SSL certificate, it shows “locked,” however, if not labeled as secure, then there will be red text reading ‘Not Secure,’ and customers who land on this site will feel less comfortable browsing even if there is no sensitive information being passed over them.
What Is Let’s Encrypt
Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).
It’s a service that helps website owners move from HTTP to HTTPS. It provides free SSL certificates for server authentication.
The project was launched in 2015 and is sponsored by many companies, including Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and OVH.
Let’s Encrypt uses ACME protocol, making it easy for administrators to set up HTTPS on their servers without going through any complex procedures. For example, you can use Let’s Encrypt on a Debian-based system by installing certbot, which automates most of the tasks involved in getting a free SSL certificate. Many shared web hosts that utilize cPanel also support Let’s Encrypt out of the box.
There’s no denying the confidence and trust that an SSL certificate can provide to a site. Choosing an SSL certificate to secure a website demonstrates that a business values customer trust, essential to financial success, customer conversion, and business growth.