What is SSL?
Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, is a security protocol that uses modern encryption to send and receive sensitive information all over the internet. It works by creating a secure channel between a user’s browser, and the website’s server to which the user wants to connect to. Any information that passes through this channel is encrypted at one end and decrypted upon receipt on the other end. Thus, even if someone gets a hold of this information, it is practically of no use to them due to the encryption of the information.
Websites can enable SSL by acquiring an SSL certificate. Web browsers can detect this certificate, which lets them know that this particular connection needs to be encrypted. Users can easily recognize whether they are visiting an SSL-enabled site by spotting a tiny lock preceding the website URL. Websites using SSL are also identifiable via their use of the https protocol, instead of http.
Benefits of SSL
As stated earlier, using SSL can be greatly beneficial for both the end user and website owner. Users have become more aware of the importance of internet security over the past few years, which means SSL could prove to be highly advantageous for any modern website.
With SSL your Website looks more professional
Let’s start by playing a little game. Can you name any popular website that does not flaunt the tiny lock icon next to its web address? If your mind is coming up short on answers, don’t sweat – there’s a very good reason for this.
Businesses recognize the rising trend of user awareness when it comes to digital privacy. So naturally, they want their customers to know that they are being protected. SSL is a solid way to endorse just how safe your platform is, adding a touch of professionalism to any site using it.
This is especially true for e-commerce websites whose business model is based on utilizing highly sensitive information, such as credit card details. PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards require that online payments through SSL have, at the very least, 128-bit encryption. This makes online transactions as safe as possible – a great advertisement for your business’ brand.
Google Loves sites using SSL
Some companies spend a ton of resources on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) without realizing that simply enabling SSL can give their site a ranking boost on Google Search. It has been more than two years now that Google incorporated SSL as a ranking factor in its famous PageRank algorithm. So, all other things being equal, a website having SSL will be ranked higher than the one not having it on Google Search. According to MOZ, half of Google results are HTTPS and this number will continue to increase.
The major purpose of an SSL certificate is to encrypt information so that it can only be read and understood by the intended parties. Information submitted on Internet forms often passes through more than one computer before reaching its final destination, and the more “stops” it has to make, the higher the chance that a third party could obtain access. An SSL certificate inserts random characters into the original information, rendering it incomprehensible to anyone without the proper encryption key. If the information does somehow wind up in the wrong hands, it will be unreadable and therefore useless.
Customers visiting your site will know that you have encryption in place in several ways. The most recognizable are the replacement of the “http” protocol with “https“. This shows that a page is secure and is backed up by another visual cue: a lock image somewhere in the browser’s status or location bar. Today’s savvy online shoppers know to look for these things before making any online purchases and trust me, the stats show you that not having it can be dire.
You want to be sure that the information on your website, including customer information, goes to the correct server without being intercepted. When obtaining an SSL certificate, another type of protection called a server certificate is also issued. This certificate acts as a mediator between browsers and SSL servers to show that the SSL certificate provider can be trusted. Customers can view these documents to validate that the SSL certificate of your site is up to date and that the page they’re about to enter information on is really yours and not an imitation.
Necessary for Accepting Payments
In order to meet Payment Card Industry compliance, an online business needs an SSL certificate with the proper encryption of at least 128-bit. PCI standards verify that the SSL certificate is from a trusted source, uses the right strength of encryption and provides a private connection on any page that requires customers to enter personal information. Without a certificate that meets these standards, a site won’t be able to take credit card payments.
Guards Against Phishing
Phishing emails often contain links that lead unsuspecting customers to a convincing replica of an otherwise reputable site. Often disguised as advertisements or shipping confirmations, these emails attempt to gather credit card information for malicious use. However, the people who build these fake sites will have a hard time obtaining an authentic SSL certificate. When customers don’t see the signs of security on a site, they’re more likely to navigate away without entering any information.
Offers Added Brand Power
Companies that provide SSL certificates often offer site seals and other images that indicate well-trusted encryption is in use. Displaying these branded icons gives customers an added level of assurance that their information is safe as it travels.
Business Future Proofing
With threats mounting, companies are being prompted to adopt more advanced security measures. In this way, SSL represents a step that will be widely deployed in order to meet the bigger risks that come with e-commerce today. For companies that implement SSL now, they’ll be taking an important step toward future-proofing.
Improves Customer Trust
All of these elements work together to create trust between a customer and a business. Providing your customers with security for all of their information and giving them ways to verify that security improves confidence and helps to ensure a positive buying experience.
Given the benefits, going through the authorization process necessary to obtain a trusted SSL certificate is worth the effort. Attempting to operate without one deters customers and makes it difficult or impossible to take payments. Online shoppers want to know that their sensitive personal information is safe as it goes through cyberspace, and investing in SSL security is the best way to give them that peace of mind.
Disadvantages of SSL
With so many advantages, why would anyone not use SSL? Are there any disadvantages to using SSL certificates? Cost is an obvious disadvantage. SSL providers need to set up a trusted infrastructure and validate your identity so there is a cost involved.
Because some providers are so well known, their prices can be overwhelmingly high.
Performance is another disadvantage to SSL. Because the information that you send has to be encrypted by the server, it takes more server resources than if the information weren’t encrypted. The performance difference is only noticeable for websites with very large numbers of visitors and can be minimized with special hardware.
Overall, the disadvantages of using SSL are few and the advantages far outweigh them. It is critical that you properly use SSL on all websites that require sending sensitive information. Proper use of SSL certificates will help protect your customers, help protect you, and help you to gain your customer’s trust and sell more. If you’re still not sure why SSL should be used on your website contact me today.