What SSL is and why it is important for your website to be secure
SSL refers to the cryptographic protocols (Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security) used to secure all sensitive data that a person provides through the internet, such as login credentials, credit card numbers and any online transaction information. To communicate over an encrypted connection, a website requires digital certificates. Websites protected with digital certificates use URLs that begin with https:// instead of http://, and usually a visible padlock (green in Chrome for example) reinforces the domain’s encryption protection. This indicates to the website user that the connection between their browser and the website is encrypted, so any information that is submitted to the website is communicated to the website in encrypted form.
When encryption is not present, typically the information that is sent between a browser and the web server is sent in plain text and this leaves the person browsing vulnerable to hackers who are able to intercept the data that is being sent between the browser and web server and possibly use it for malicious purposes.
Since 2014, as part of their “HTTPS Everywhere” initiative Google has been warning that its Chrome browser would eventually start highlighting sites that do not use encryption, and it is very possible that this will become a reality soon. Google has also indicated that sites with encryption will possibly be ranked higher than ones that do not have it, by including the presence of encryption on a website as a ranking factor in its search algorithms.
Security of personal information and privacy are big concerns for online users, and yet most do not have a strong faith that websites take the security of their information seriously enough. It is therefore crucial for your online business to create a trusted environment where potential customers can feel confident in providing you their personal and sensitive data. Your customers need to know that you value their security and protect their information. Having your website secured is an essential first step, since this is often the first point of contact with your customers. A secure website guarantees your visitors that it is a genuine website and that the data that they transmit will be encrypted. In addition to this, your business should have adequate procedures in place within your own internal systems to ensure that information submitted by users is safeguarded within your organization by following best practices for protection of your own systems.
Typically the steps required to make your website secure are conducted by your website provider and are:
- Purchase and install a 2048-bit digital certificate provided by a trusted Certificate Authority
- Upgrade the web server as required to ensure that it handles the correct protocols for secure connections
- Make appropriate changes to your website’s Content Management System (CMS) to ensure that all pages are now served up using the https:// protocol instead of http://
- Make appropriate changes to your website’s content to ensure that all content is available over https:// and that the web pages do not give any insecure content warnings
- Test the website using approved encryption configuration testing tools and make any necessary adjustments
The above items will involve a certain cost, since digital certificates vary in pricing and since some of the above steps take time also depending on the size and scope of your website, however they are very important in order to ensure that your website is a secure environment for your online customers.
For more information on implementation on your own website, please feel free to Contact Us.