What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL Certificates, or Secure Sockets Layer Certificates are fairly common across the internet. If fact, you may already be familiar with them without even knowing. Look up at the URL above, or any eCommerce site and you’ll see a green padlock with the words “Secure”. You’ll also see “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP”, that’s how you know a site has some form of an SSL Certificate.
A secure connection cannot be established if you do not have the SSL certificate. Your company information not being digitally connected to a cryptographic is the result.
SSL Certificate has following information:
- Name of the holder
- Serial number and expiration date
- Copy of the certificate holder’s public key
- Digital Signature of the certificate-issuing authority
What’s the purpose of an SSL Certificate?
An SSL Certificate is extremely important. They’re responsible for authenticating the identity of a website as well as encrypting the information sent to the server. Encryption is the process of scrambling data into an undecipherable forma. SSL technology returns the information to a readable format with the proper decryption key.
An SSL Certificate serves as an electronic “passport” that establishes an online entity’s credentials when doing business on the Web. When you or anyone else tried to send confidential information (payment, social security number, banking information) to a Web server, the user’s browser accesses the server’s digital certificate and establishes a secure connection.
A site not configured with an SSL Certificate can be easily compromised by third parties. The SSL Certificate eliminates the possibility of your confidential information being compromised and being obtained by others.
Why are SSL Certificates suddenly so important?
Putting aside the obvious security advantages of having an SSL Certificate, Google officially flagged all unencrypted internet traffic by the end of 2017. If your website’s URL doesn’t have an “HTTPS” in the domain – you’ll be flagged by Google.
This is huge from an SEO standpoint, since not only will you get a negative strike from Google for not having an encrypted data connection, but now you could actually have your entire site flagged by Google. This means it won’t even be visible for customers to find online.
There are a number of other reasons why SSL Certificates are important, as detailed below.
A secure connection is required for websites that take any form of online payments, be it through credit card payments or third-party payment processors such as Worldpay or PayPal. In recent months, however, the web has also seen an increasing number of non-ecommerce websites using ssl encryption on their websites. Big players such as the BBC, Facebook and Google also endorsie the change, even though they do not directly sell through their websites.
It’s not just credit card details that are vulnerable to attacks online. Other personal information such as email addresses and social media messaging are also at risk. SSL encryption allows for the safe passage of this information, blocking it from any potential third-party access or unwanted hacks. If your website encourages its visitors to sign up for membership or fill out a contact form, then SSL encryption should be considered in order to protect this information.
SSL certificates authenticate and verify the owner of a website. This prevents that site from any potential phishing attacks. These certificates mitigate third-party hackers impersonating a website in order to obtain personal information.
Verification of Information
SSL certificates also provide verification of the information that is listed on websites. This is particularly apparent on news sites such as the BBC or Guardian, and further prevents users’ content from being altered by third-parties.
Is an SSL Certificate required for my website?
Yes and no. There is no single entity out there policing the Web, so you’re not officially required to have anything on your website, let alone an SSL Certificate. But that’s not the end of the story.
You need an SSL Certificate if you want any chance of being discovered online, being indexed, selling goods or services, taking user information, or the like. Simply put, for you to compete in any capacity you need to be searchable on Google. And if you don’t have an SSL Certificate – Google will not index you.
With Google Chrome version 62 being released, websites with any kind of text input must have an SSL certificate.
- Does your website takes text inputs in the form of login panels, contact forms, search bars, etc.
- Is your website on HTTP://?
If it’s a YES to both these questions, you need to install SSL to avoid any risks or warnings. If you don’t implement SSL soon, your visitors will see a “Not Secure” warning on visiting your site.
Where do I get an SSL Certificate?
The end user’s machine must show the Root Certificate in order for the Certificate to be trusted. The browser will present untrusted error messages to the end user if it’s not trusted. In the case of e-commerce, such error messages result in immediate lack of confidence in the website and loss of business from the majority of consumers.
GlobalSign is an example of a company known as trusted Certificate Authorities. Browser and operating system vendors such as Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, Blackberry, Java, etc., trust that GlobalSign is a legitimate Certificate Authority and can be relied on to issue trustworthy SSL Certificates. The more applications, devices, and browsers the Certificate Authority embeds its Root into, the better “recognition” the SSL Certificate can provide.
GlobalSign was founded in 1996 in Europe and is still one of the longest running Certificate Authorities in the region.
Automated resources like Let’s Encrypt are available to developers, or you can inherit an SSL Certificate through CDN service like CloudFlare. It is also important to not that SSL Certificates are a byproduct feature that need to be implemented in order to be G.D.P.R compliant.
Read our summary of G.D.P.R. and it’s importance to your website if you’re unfamiliar with it.
Now you should have a foundational understanding of SSL Certificates. We recommend checking that your website is currently configured correctly. Though not explicitly required, it will only ever help; especially when trying to rank in Google and other search engines.
If you’re unsure on how and where to check if you’re being compliant with an SSL Certificate, or G.D.P.R. compliant – contact us and we’ll get you set up.
If you know that your website is already secure, read up on how to make the most out of your web traffic by implementing a solid strategy based on the psychology of the web.
A believer in the pursuit of genuine ideas, the power of numbers and all that is the internet. Michael has been a full stack web systems engineer for 10 years. Focusing specifically on WordPress based systems, usability, UX/UI, and delivering Human Solutions in a digital world.