What is an SSL Certificate?

In simple terms, an SSL certificate is a digital document that verifies that the owner of a website is authentic.

They make sure that visitors are accessing the website they intended to view by providing relevant ownership. For E-Commerce websites, this helps to prevent hackers from impersonating your company or your website.

From a customer’s perspective, it establishes that there is a secure connection between their internet browser and the server of the website they are connecting with. This keeps passwords and credit card details protected by adding a layer of encryption went data is sent.

SSLs come in two flavours – Basic and EV

SSL certificates must be purchased from a Certificate Authority such as Comodo, Symantec, GoDaddy, and Global Sign. All of these use SHA-2 security protocols.

Basic
Verifies your website identity by ensuring that registered by checking that the owner who is enrolled has the right to manage that domain. This procedure is often automatic, and once passed, you will see the secure padlock and HTTPS appear in your URL.

EV or Extended Validation
EV certificates are vetted far more rigorously, the majority being checked manually. This will often involve the provision of corporate documents and the receipt of phone calls to your listed business number. In addition to showing the padlock and HTTPS, you can light your address bar green and demonstrate your company’s legal name and domain name side by side, further increasing your legitimacy.

What’s the value of an SSL Certificate?

For E-Commerce websites, the most significant value is the trust earned from visitors and prospective customers who are more likely to purchase if they feel safe. The presence of a valid SSL certificate instantly instils a level of authenticity and trustworthiness.

Following Google’s announcement that it would now consider secure pages as a factor in their ranking algorithm, it will affect the way your site ranks in the search engines. It may only be a slight increase in visibility, but combined with the level of trust instilled with the potential customer, sales can only get better.

SSL History and Changes

SSL stands for ‘Secure Socket Layer’ which ironically is now an outdated security standard that has largely been replaced by TLS or ‘Transport Layer Security.’ However, ‘SSL’ is still used as a generic term in site security certificates. There are still some older SSL protocols in place that have been targeted in recent years. Consequently, there is a real need to disable to older technology which has been employed now by most browsers, phasing out the older SHA-1 in favour of SHA-2. This has no doubt been accelerated by Google announcing that it would be placing more emphasis on ‘sunsetting’ older algorithms to encourage everyone to move over to the new higher levels of security.

Other Things to Consider

HTTPS can have a slight effect on your sites speed, so make sure it has been developed and optimised correctly.
Any third party scripts and applications will also need to be checked for security and be compatible with SSLs.
It’s also worth remembering that an HTTPS address is classed as a new site, so you’ll need to make sure that you’ve updated any details in Google Search Consul and Google Analytics to pick up the new address.

Summing Up

SSLs may not be the ‘be all and end all’ of site security, but they’re a crucial step in the right direction to make your browsing a much safer and easier experience. Whether you have an E-Commerce or brochure website, you can’t afford to neglect to have an SSL certificate installed. Choosing to ignore this will result in your business getting left behind in the search engines, or worse – compromised.

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