One of the major challenges facing online business owners is the security of their business websites, especially with the increased cases of hacking where hackers steal the personal information of internet users. This problem is more serious for businesses that accept online payments, where vital information (credit card details, banking details, account passwords, etc.) about their customers can be easily accessed without the right security measures. Therefore, as an online business owner, it is crucial that you protect your customers’ personal information, as by installing security measures on your website. One of the best ways of achieving this is through the use of an SSL certificate.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, one of the most popular security technologies used to improve the security of a website against unauthorized access, by encrypting the traffic between a computer browser and the server hosting the website. This helps to ensure that any information being transmitted, including sensitive information such as credit card numbers, addresses, login details, social security numbers, etc., is completely secure – the encrypted data is in the form of an unintelligible code, which ensures that the information cannot be decoded if it is intercepted by a third party (hacker). An SSL Certificate is, thus, a digital certificate that helps to encrypt the information sent from a server to a computer browser using SSL technology.
How does an SSL certificate work?
SSL certificates work by encrypting data between the server (the server hosting the website in this case) and the client (the online user’s computer browser). The encryption technique that is used in the process is referred to as a public key cryptography, where two keys are used:
- A public key
- A private key
The public key is used to encrypt the information being transmitted, while the private key (known only to the web browser) is used to decrypt the information. After encryption on the server side, the public key is sent to the client (web browser), which authenticates the server by confirming that the public key is valid and then decrypts the information using the private key.
However, since the public is too long to be remembered, it is stored in a digital certificate, the SSL Certificate, where it is securely transported. Therefore, when an online user attempts to establish a connection with a web server that uses SSL protocol, the browser will send a request to the server to identify itself. In response, the server will send a copy of its SSL certificate containing the public key, which will identify it as being authentic. After authentication, the browser will use the private key to start a secure connection, thus ensuring that the traffic sent between the two is secure.
Why does your website need an SSL certificate?
Despite the need for secure transmission of customer information, there are still some online business owners that do not use SSL certificates, mostly because they do not understand their importance. If you are one of these business owners or are wondering what is the need for SSL certificates, below is a look at some of the top reasons why you should install the certificates on your website:
- If you sell products and services on your website
If you sell products and services online, your customers will provide you information such as credit card details, banking details, email addresses, physical addresses, and other sensitive information that can cause serious problems if it fell into the wrong hands. Therefore, you should install an SSL certificate on your website to ensure that all this information is encrypted, which will guarantee that it is protected even if it was intercepted by hackers.
- If your website has a membership feature
If you run or intend to run a membership program on your website, the members will be required to provide personal information such as their email address, names, account passwords, etc. And since most people tend to use the same personal information on multiple websites, you should take active measures to protect the personal information submitted by the members. Therefore, to guarantee the security of this information, you should install an SSL certificate on your website.
- If your website asks the users to submit any personal information
Nowadays, most websites collect personal information from website visitors (using forms) in order to improve the user experience. However, in addition to using the information provided, online businesses have a responsibility to protect it from unauthorized access. Therefore, if you ask your website visitors to submit any kind of personal information, you should an install SSL certificate on your website to guarantee the security of the received information.
The benefits of using an SSL certificate on your website
Installing an SSL certificate on your website might seem just like a necessity that is carried out to guarantee the security of your website. However, it can also bring about several benefits that can help your business. Below is a look at some of the top benefits of using an SSL certificate on your website:
- It helps your website visitors to trust your site
SSL certificates help to improve the security of your visitors’ personal information by providing a secure connection that protects their personal information, especially when they are using vulnerable internet connections such as public Wi-Fi. The secure connection is indicated by HTTPs and a green bar or padlock, which is one of the top trust indicators online. Therefore, your website visitors will have an easy time trusting your website, which in turn will encourage them to stay longer and make it easy for you to convert them into paying customers.
- It can help to increase the amount of traffic arriving on your site
Nowadays, browsers have installed security features that warn their users when they are trying to access unsecured websites. When most users receive such a warning, they usually turn back to avoid a situation where their sensitive information might be compromised. This leads to a significant decrease in the traffic of the affected websites. Therefore, installing an SSL certificate on your website will ensure that your users do not get these warnings, which will help to increase the amount of traffic arriving on your website.
- It can help to improve your search engine rankings
Search engines strive to protect the privacy of their users by ensuring that they do not expose them to websites where their online privacy and security can be compromised. As such, it did not come as a surprise when Google announced a while back that it would start using SSL as a ranking signal when ranking websites. And even though it is not one of the top ranking factors, using an SSL certificate can help to boost the rankings of your website on search engines.
With increase cases of online privacy and security being compromised, internet users want to feel more secure when they are accessing various websites. As a result, it is important as a business owner to boost the security of your website in order to guarantee that your website visitors are protected, something that is possible with the use of an SSL certificate. Installing an SSL certificate on your website will also help your online business to reap from several other benefits such as improved user trust, increased trust, and improved search engine rankings.