Cyber attacks are increasing in number, becoming more aggressive and advanced, making website security more important than ever. There are many ways to increase a website’s security; however, one that most developers forget about is simple. It’s getting an SSL certificate.
Do you know what an SSL certificate is? If not, read on to learn more about SSL certificates, how they work, and the benefits of having a certified website.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL stands for “secure sockets layer” and is a certification that offers a secure connection over the Internet. The secure connection is between a user’s browser and the website they’re visiting.
An SSL certificate encrypts the connection, preventing data from being intercepted during transmission and ensuring the data is protected. However, an SSL certificate offers even more benefits.
What Does the SSL Certificate Do?
An SSL certificate acts as a visual confirmation to users that the website they’re visiting is safe and secure. This is especially important for websites where users are asked to share their personal data and payment details.
In addition, having an SSL certificate builds trust with site visitors, who immediately recognize your site as legitimate and trustworthy. Today, over 75% of websites use SSL and HTTPS as their first line of protection against cyber threats.
What’s the Difference Between SSL and TLS?
As you know, the Internet and web development are filled with jargon and abbreviations for all kinds of things. When it comes to Internet security, there’s a wide range of jargon available, such as SSL and TLS. We’ve taken a look at SSL, so now we’ll review TLS.
TLS stands for Transport Layer Security and is a protocol used to encrypt data transferred between a user and a web server, similar to SSL. At first glance, there’s not much difference between SSL and TLS. They both do much the same job; however, TLS is the upgraded, more secure version of SSL. When you take a deep dive into the technical details, you’ll see major differences between TLS and SSL.
Many providers now use TLS encryption because of the added security it provides. Even so, it’s still industry standard to refer to them as SSL certificates.
How to Tell If You’re Using SSL?
The way a website indicates the presence of an SSL certificate varies across web browsers:
SSL Certificate in Google Chrome
In Google Chrome, the main indicator of a valid SSL certificate is the use of https:// at the beginning of a site’s URL rather than http://.
As a visual indicator, you usually see a padlock icon in the address bar before the URL of the site. However, back in 2021, Google announced that Chrome M93 would include an experiment that replaces the lock icon in the address bar with a more neutral “dropdown” style arrow to improve access to other security information.
An SSL Certificate in Microsoft Edge
When visiting a website using Microsoft Edge, the site will look very similar to what is seen in Chrome. If the connection is secure, you’ll see a lock icon in the URL bar.
If the site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, the address bar will indicate an insecure connection with a triangle warning icon.
What are the Benefits of SSL Certificates?
Using an SSL certificate offers many benefits, including the following:
One of the main benefits of SSL is data protection. When data is encrypted between the site and the user, cybercriminals are not able to intercept and read that data. Even if there is a data breach and some data is intercepted, the SSL certificate makes it almost impossible to understand due to the level of encryption it uses.
Site visitors will feel safer, knowing that their data is protected. Your business also looks more trustworthy and credible.
Reduce the Risk of Phishing
The visual indicators mentioned earlier also prevent phishing attacks. Phishing websites are those that are fraudulent sites made by malicious criminals. Their goal is to steal user data. These sites often look like replicas of legitimate sites, and they’re used to trick visitors into entering their personal data.
However, with a valid SSL certificate, your website shows that your company is real, and your site protects visitor data from phishing attacks.
Increase Search Engine Ranking
Most businesses understand the necessity of ranking their websites in search engine results. In 2014, Google announced that it would begin including SSL and HTTPS as a factor in its search rankings.
From that time until now, having a valid SSL certificate is almost the only way to rank in the search engine. Google gives precedence to sites that use valid SSL certificates to keep their websites secure and protect site users.
Secure Customer Payments
SSL encryption is also valuable for payment data. When customers send their card details to make a purchase on your site, having HTTPS in the address bar shows that your business is encrypting and protecting those details.
In addition, PCI (Payment Cards Industry) has regulations that require at least 128-bit encryption on any payment data that’s being transmitted. So, if your site is taking payments from customers, having an SSL certificate is the bare minimum needed.
Showing Users Your Business is Trustworthy
Again, one of the main benefits of having an SSL certificate on your site is showing customers they can trust you. Without this assurance, visitors on an HTTP-only site using Chrome are shown a screen with a warning symbol. The screen tells the visitor that their connection isn’t secure.
That’s about the same as having a warning sign outside of a physical shop. The sign may warn shoppers that their wallets will be stolen if they enter.
Visitors who see such a warning screen on your website must click on a very small button to reach your unsecured site. That’s not something that engenders trust or credibility for your business.
How to Get an SSL Certificate
Getting an SSL certificate verification for your website is pretty easy. Usually, you apply through an independent certificate authority (CA). Cas are third parties that provide a digital signature that’s trustworthy.
After receiving a certificate from the CA, it should be applied to your website through your server. Usually, your website host takes care of the activation. After that, users can visit your site securely.
How Much Does an SSL Certificate Cost?
It’s possible to obtain an SSL certificate for free; however, these are usually only valid for 90 days. So, when the certificate expires each time, it’s necessary to update the SSL certificate. In addition, free certificates offer less complex security features than paid versions, making them more suitable for smaller websites and blogs.
Businesses are better off with a paid premium SSL certificate, which can cost between £25-50/year, though prices vary depending on the level of service required. There are packages that exceed these costs, and it’s possible to find SSL certificates for as little as £6/year.
Summing It Up
Investing in an SSL certificate is the best way to ensure that visitor data is encrypted and secure. It’s also what savvy Internet users expect from legitimate businesses.
To ensure your site is protected against malicious criminals, it’s best to invest in the right SSL certificate for your website.