SSL Certificate: What Is It & Do I Need One?

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Having an active SSL certificate on your website is essential in today’s online world. An encryption technology developed in the 1990’s, SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. It allows data to securely travel between your web server and your visitor’s web browser by creating an encrypted connection. The recent increase in SSL usage is due to many web browsers now displaying a warning message for visitors on websites which do not have a valid certificate. In particular, the Chrome and Firefox web browsers are displaying a “not secure” message within a website’s address bar if a valid SSL certificate is not installed. This has led to most reputable hosting companies, including ourselves, providing our customers with SSL certificates for their websites. Today we’re going to discuss further what an SSL certificate is, how it works and the reasons why it’s vital your website has one.

What is SSL and How Does It Work?

An easy way to understand what an SSL certificate is to think of it as a passport. Information about your domain name, server name, company name and location are all bound together with unique cryptographic keys. When installed on your website’s server, it will encrypt all information sent to and from it, allowing only the two parties on each end to be able to read it. If intercepted, it cannot be deciphered. The application protocol HTTP will change to HTTPS, and either a green browser bar or green padlock will be seen depending on the type of certificate used.

Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?

When a visitor uses your website, information is passed between your website and their web browser. Information can include passwords, credit card details, addresses and other personal information. Before the introduction of SSL, it was possible for hackers to steal this information. An SSL or digital certificate, however, creates a secure link from your website to your visitor’s browser, allowing safe passage for all information.

It’s a common misconception that SSL is only necessary for eCommerce websites. The reality is, SSL provides security, peace of mind and data integrity for both parties on any website. The data encryption does prevent others from seeing credit card and personal details but also stops malware and other meddling occurring too.

Therefore, the main reasons your website needs SSL are to:

  • Encrypt all information sent between your website and your visitor’s web browser
  • Provide authentication for your visitors, as they know that they are sending their information to the right website, not an imposter
  • Improved SEO rankings, as Google will rank sites with valid certificates slightly higher than those without
  • Gain your customer’s trust, as they know you are doing everything you can to protect their personal information
  • Avoid your visitors seeing a message in your web address bar saying your website is “not secure” if they are using the Chrome or Firefox web browser

At FutureLab, we take your security seriously. Using only secure cloud hosting, we provide our customers with a compartmentalised server system which promotes fast websites but also protects you from hackers and spammers. We also offer SSL certificates with all our hosting plans too. Arrange a time with us to chat about how we can improve the security of your website by switching to one of our managed monthly hosting plans and website development services.