The majority of websites gather user information through contact forms, newsletter subscriptions, or online sales transactions.
Particularly when online transactions occur on your website, the last thing you want is for your customer’s personal information or credit card details to be compromised. This is where an SSL certificate becomes crucial.
An SSL certificate is not exclusively for business websites; any type of website can benefit from the added security it provides. Not only does an SSL certificate ensure the protection of customer data, but it also enhances the website’s position in search engine results and its overall credibility.
In this article, we will explore various aspects related to SSL, including its definition, benefits, and dispelling common misconceptions.
What Is SSL and How Does It Work?
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol designed to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This protocol ensures a secure connection, safeguarding information from unauthorized access or alteration by third parties.
In order to obtain an SSL certificate, website owners are required to purchase it from a Certificate Authority (CA). The CA utilizes the Certificate Signing Request (CSR) to generate the certificate.
The CSR is a securely encrypted text generated on the server where the certificate will be deployed. It contains essential details like the domain name of the website, contact information, and the public key necessary for encrypting transmitted data.
When a visitor’s browser attempts to reach the website, the web server will transmit a copy of the certificate for verification.
If the verification is successful, a secure SSL connection will be established. The website will employ an URL that commences with HTTPS, and the presence of a padlock icon in the address bar may vary depending on the browser.
Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?
The importance of an SSL certificate extends beyond safeguarding sensitive information. In this section, we will explore additional justifications for acquiring this digital certificate.
There are numerous methods to enhance the security of your website. Incorporating an SSL certificate offers an additional and vital level of defense against malicious attacks.
Even if your website does not involve transactions, it is essential to safeguard users’ login credentials, addresses, and other personal information.
Websites lacking SSL certificates utilize HTTP, a text-based protocol that can be intercepted and read more easily. On the other hand, HTTPS employs cryptographic keys to encrypt data, providing a higher level of security and making it challenging for potential attackers to intercept the data transmission.
As a result, the HTTPS protocol safeguards your website from digital hazards, such as man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. These attacks occur when an individual intercepts the communication between the website’s server and the client’s browser.
Attackers can either pilfer the exchanged information or redirect the traffic to a phishing website, where they solicit login credentials or other sensitive data. Even if an attacker manages to intercept your connection, having an SSL certificate guarantees that they cannot decipher the transmitted information.
Building trust with your customers is of utmost importance, especially for online businesses. Customers require tangible evidence that it is secure to share their data. Studies indicate that 17% of shoppers abandon their carts due to a lack of trust in the website’s security when entering their credit card details.
An SSL certificate conveys to visitors that they can securely exchange information with the website, thereby encouraging them to utilize your services. This puts you ahead of competitors who do not possess an SSL certificate.
Moreover, it assists visitors in verifying the website’s ownership before signing in or disclosing other sensitive information.
Installing an SSL certificate offers an additional benefit by boosting your SEO strategy. Search engines, including Google, consider website security as a significant factor in determining page rankings.
In order to ensure a secure browsing experience for users, Google Chrome and other web browsers display a “Not Secure” warning message on websites without an SSL certificate to alert visitors.
By having an SSL certificate, you gain an advantage over competitors who lack one, leading to an improved position for your site on search engine results pages (SERPs).
SSL Certificate – When Do I Need it?
For all website owners, prioritizing the installation of an SSL certificate is crucial. Regardless of whether the website collects data or not, ensuring a seamless and secure browsing experience for all visitors is essential.
Below are a few types of websites that require SSL certificates.
Ensuring a secure data transfer is crucial for online stores that handle customer payments. SSL plays a vital role in protecting collected information, including usernames, passwords, and payment details, from unauthorized interception.
Popular internet browsers like Chrome and Safari caution visitors against submitting personal information on an HTTP website. Consequently, customers become concerned about the potential theft of their credit card information, leading them to abandon the online store.
Additionally, complying with PCI requirements, which entail encrypting the transmission of cardholder data across open networks, necessitates the presence of an SSL certificate for all websites involved in online payment collection. Alternatively, utilizing a third-party payment processor like PayPal, which is SSL-certified, can be an alternative for receiving online payments.
An example of a vulnerable website type, just like an eCommerce website, is a portfolio website. When a potential client fills out a contact form, SSL encryption comes into play, ensuring that the submitted information remains inaccessible to hackers.
Preserving user privacy is of utmost importance for any public service agency. It is crucial to implement measures that protect data entry forms, ensuring that cybercriminals are unable to snoop on or modify the information being submitted.
Even though a static website does not gather data or process payments, it is imperative to safeguard its content. Hackers can target any visitor of HTTP websites, highlighting the importance of ensuring protection for static websites as well.
What happens if you don’t have an SSL certificate?
With the advancement of technology, security attacks have also evolved. Research indicates that the average cost of a data breach reached $4.24 million in 2021. By having an SSL certificate, the risks of cyberattacks can be prevented and minimized.
Apart from financial losses, cyberattacks can potentially compromise the privacy of countless users and significantly impact a business’s reputation. The Equifax data breach serves as a prime example.
Equifax, a prominent credit reporting agency in the United States, disclosed in September 2017 that its systems had been breached, resulting in the exposure of personal information belonging to 148 million Americans. It was later revealed that their SSL certificates had expired, highlighting the importance of keeping SSL certificates up-to-date and valid.
Websites that attract visitors from the European Union are obligated to adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR is legislation designed to safeguard the personal information and online privacy of EU citizens. Failure to comply with the GDPR puts organizations at risk of facing substantial fines, which can reach up to €20 million.
SSL Has Any Disadvantages?
Now that you have gained insight into the numerous advantages of utilizing SSL certificates, it is important to address certain misconceptions that have cast doubt on the security and effectiveness of HTTPS sites.
In this section, we will dispel some of the most prevalent misconceptions surrounding SSL certificates and HTTPS websites.
Changing From HTTP to HTTPS Affects Website Speed
Site performance is often associated with speed, and there is a common misconception that HTTP sites load faster than HTTPS sites. This misconception stems from the belief that HTTPS, which involves data encryption, may slow down data transfer.
Contrary to this belief, SSL encryption does not significantly impact site speed. In fact, the latest HTTP/2 protocol used in SSL can boost load times. Free website speed test tools like Dareboost allow you to compare page load times when using HTTP/1 and HTTP/2, providing empirical evidence to debunk this misconception.
SSL Certificates Keep Your Site Completely Secure
While installing an SSL certificate improves the security of data exchanged on your site, it does not guarantee absolute protection against hacking. It is essential to continue practicing basic account and password security measures. Additionally, ensuring that your website remains updated and free from malware is crucial.
By combining the use of an SSL certificate with these precautions, you can significantly enhance the security of your website and provide a safer browsing experience for your visitors.
SSL Protects Only Payment-Processing Websites
Regardless of whether you operate a personal blog or a business website, your internet security can be compromised in an instant if certain information ends up in the wrong hands.
It’s not just credit card and bank details that cybercriminals are interested in. Surprisingly, hackers can leverage seemingly innocuous email addresses obtained from web forms to attempt login credentials and gain unauthorized access to other websites.
Therefore, all websites that collect visitors’ personal information, such as membership sites, require an SSL certificate to reinforce their security measures.
SSL Needs Only Login Pages
Proceeding beyond the login page without HTTPS exposes users to a higher risk of session hijacking. This risk becomes even more significant when accessing your website through public WiFi networks, such as those found in coffee shops or airports.
Therefore, SSL protection ensures a more secure browsing experience throughout every page session, mitigating the potential risks associated with unauthorized access or interception.
SSL Certificates are Expensive
Numerous hosting companies provide complimentary SSL certificates as part of their hosting plans. Additionally, depending on the specific requirements of your website, many providers offer SSL certificates for purchase at reasonable prices.
Regardless of the chosen type, it is crucial to obtain the SSL certificate from a reputable certificate issuing authority. This ensures the credibility and reliability of the certificate for your website’s security needs.
How to Get an SSL Certificate For My Website?
Before obtaining an SSL certificate, it is essential to evaluate which certificate type aligns with your website’s security requirements and budget most effectively.
The process of installing an SSL certificate is contingent upon the hosting arrangement and location of your website. In most cases, your hosting company will offer assistance in installing the SSL certificate for you.
Beehosting offers complimentary SSL certificates with all of our hosting plans. Installing these certificates is a hassle-free process that can be completed within a matter of minutes. Users simply need to access their cPanel to initiate the installation.
Irrespective of a website’s size, users consistently anticipate a secure browsing experience. By implementing an SSL certificate, sensitive data transmitted between the web server and the browser is safeguarded, thereby enhancing the overall trustworthiness of the website.
In addition to offering an additional layer of protection against malicious activities, SSL is crucial for reinforcing the site’s SEO performance. Secure websites have a higher likelihood of achieving improved rankings on search engine results, further enhancing their visibility and credibility.
While an SSL certificate serves as an initial barrier against data interception by attackers, it is important to recognize that it is not the sole solution for comprehensive website security. Additional security measures are still required to effectively safeguard your website and its visitors.