How can you be sure that the information between your customers and your website is actually secure? People who decide to take their business online often find themselves asking that question. More so, how can you know that hackers and various third parties (involved in building, developing, and running your website) can’t get their hands on the sensitive data and cause irreversible damage to your business and reputation? This is where an SSL Certificate comes into play! Now you might just wonder ‘What Is An SSL Certificate‘?
ٌWhat is An SSL Certificate?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a “cryptographic protocol” designed to provide communications security over a computer network. It achieves this goal by encrypting data that is transferred between two communicating parties.
In simple terms, the protocol doesn’t actually prevent third parties from accessing the data, rather it encrypts the information in a way that only the sender and the intended recipient are able to decipher, effectively making the communications secure.
Essentially, this is an encryption process that is unique to your website. SSL Certificates digitally bind a cryptographic key to a company’s details, namely the domain name, location, and etc.
SSL certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs); organizations trusted to verify the identity and legitimacy of any entity requesting a certificate.
With the basics out of the way, let’s talk about what you actually need to know and answer some of your questions.
Where do I get it?
As mentioned earlier, you can get a digital certificate from a recognized Certificate Authority. Worldwide, the certificate authority business is fragmented, with national or regional providers dominating its home market. So, depending on where you live, the procedure might be slightly different.
You might also be able to get an SSL Certificate from your web hosting provider or your domain name registrar. You can contact them and ask them about your options. Overall, it’s a fairly simple process once you get the hang of it.
Are all Certificates the same?
There are three types of SSL Certificates available today; Extended Validation, Organization Validated, and Domain Validated.
Domain Validated (DV) certificates are checked against domain registry. These certificates should not be used for commercial purposes (e.g. e-commerce websites) as there are no underlying organizational information that connects the organization to the website.
With Organization Validated (OV) certificates, The CA checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name, while also conducting some vetting on the organization.
Extended Validation (EV) is the most secure type of SSL Certificates and is used by most of the world’s leading organizations. It is highly recommended to use this type of certificate for e-commerce websites.
Fundamentally, all SSL Certificates do the same thing by encrypting information during SSL/TLS negotiations. One thing that should be mentioned is the price which varies depending on how secure your certificate is.
How do I know if SSL is enabled on my website or not?
One way to check if a website is secure is to see if the website URL uses https rather than http. Needless to say that the “s” at the end of HTTPS stands for “Secure”!
A green padlock plus the name of the company or organization, also in green, means that your website has an Extended Validation (EV).
Why Do I Need It?
Any computer in between your website and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted with an SSL Certificate.
When an SSL Certificate is used, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you are sending the information to. This protects it from hackers and identity thieves.
Here are some other reasons to utilize an SSL Certificate for your website and business:
- Online payments
If your website accepts credit card information, then you’ll be required by law to secure your website with an SSL Certificate. Imagine the trouble if those data were used against you, or worse, stolen by a hacker.
- An SSL Certificate has SEO benefits
Google ranks secured sites higher in search results compared to an unsecured site. It might not be noticeable at first but it’s one of many factors that determines where your website lands in search results.
- It earns trust
With a certificate, you’re sending out a message to your readers and customers, effectively proving that you take them seriously. A secure website is an indication that the owner takes their users’ privacy seriously, and in doing so, instills trust and confidence.
Secure your business today by taking the first step toward getting an SSL Certificate. The process is neither troublesome, nor tiring, and can be done in a matter of days.
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