What is an SSL certificate and why does your website need it?
There are plenty of technical terms related to website work, but some of them are really worth understanding for all website owners.
A good example is SSL. Today, we explain in simple terms what an SSL certificate is, why it is part of the required measures to make your website more secure, how to check if a website uses SSL, and how to add an SSL certificate to your website.
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate for a website that provides a secure and encrypted connection. What does this mean?
You might have noticed that some web addresses begin with "http://" and others with "https://". This one letter “s” is responsible for safety. "Https://" in a URL means that a website is protected by an SSL certificate. It means that a website is using a safer data exchange protocol — HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) as opposed to just HTTP.
The technology behind this letter extra “S” is called SSL (or “Secure Sockets Layer”). This is a global standard security technology used by millions of websites. Its goal is to safeguard the data transferred between users’ browsers and websites. For example, when customers enter their personal or payment information into the form, everyone can feel safe thanks to SSL. It makes it extremely hard for hackers to steal or tamper with the data.
Encryption algorithms used in SSL makes it impossible to read the information even if someone intercepts it. An SSL certificate also authenticates the website, i.e. verifies its identity to make sure a user’s browser really connects to the right server.
In the context of SSL, you may also hear an alternate term — TLS (Transport Layer Security). In brief, this is an upgraded version of SSL.
Why do I need an SSL certificate for my website?
One of the things our website support and maintenance team can discover during website security audits is the absence of SSL. As a company that cares about website safety, we want to emphasize its importance. Here are a few reasons why you need an SSL certificate for your website:
The first reason why you need SSL is pretty clear — you want to stay secure. SSL is especially important for websites with sensitive operations that involve credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information. However, no business will appreciate phishing scams, attacks, data tempering, and other things that happen because of insufficient cybersecurity practices.
You will also need SSL to improve your search engine optimization efforts. This is due to the fact that SSL is part of Google's search ranking algorithm. If there are two sites with an equally relevant content, the one with SSL will have a certain search ranking preference over the one without it.
Website reputation, traffic and conversions
Users are becoming increasingly aware of the signs that show whether the site uses SSL. The absence of SSL discourages many users from continuing with the website or cause them to give up an operation. This is especially true for sites that require data entry. In addition, some browsers directly mark websites without SSL as insecure or even refuse to display them by showing the “Your connection is not private” message.
In short, a website without SSL is a website no one wants to deal with. If you do have SSL, however, it serves as a brand enhancer. By the way, being validated with a Trusted Certificate Authority (CA) that issues SSL certificates is an additional boost to your brand reputation.
How to check if my website has SSL?
We have just mentioned that many users know about the presence or absence of SSL on websites. Depending on the browser, you will see some of these signs, or several in combination:
- The URL starts with "https://" and not "http://".
- Part of the URL goes green.
- There is the word “secure” to the left of the address bar.
- There is a padlock icon in the web address bar.
- When you click on the padlock, you can see the text that says your “Connection is secure,” as well as the information about the certificate validity.
How can I add an SSL certificate to a website?
SSL certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs), so that is where you can obtain them (in most cases, for a fee). These are organizations that check the legitimacy of any web resource that requests the certificate.
Instead of reaching out to a CA, you can also buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider or domain name registrar.
A popular option is a free “Let’s Encrypt” certificate. However, even with this option, you will need a tech-savvy person to add it to your website.
Add SSL to your website with the Drudesk team experts
Hopefully, our little tour has made it clear what an SSL certificate is and why you need one. You can ask our website maintenance team to add an SSL certificate to your website. Here, you will have the following options:
- If you host your website with our hosting service, you will have a free and auto-renewable “Let’s Encrypt” certificate installed.
- Our DevOps experts will be able to help you buy and install a certificate from whatever other SSL provider you choose.
Be on the safe side with us!