What is an SSL Certificate and why do you need one?

Source - Flickr
Source – Flickr

In more basic terms an SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer/Digital Certificate) is used to establish a secure encrypted connection between a browser (user’s computer) and a server (website). The SSL connection guards or protects sensitive data, for example, credit card information that is exchanged during each visit (session) or data transfer and logins. It is also becoming the “norm” when it comes to securing social media sites.

As a web design and development agency we come across many clients who ask, “Why do I need an SSL?” and “What is an SSL?” This is an important thing for us to be able to explain to our clients as it is the backbone of Internet security and it protects sensitive information as it travels all across the internet. The main reason we use an SSL is because anyone can see the information you are passing through your server if you do not have an SSL certificate. SSL Certificates fasten together:

  • A domain name, server name, or hostname
  • An company name and location

What types of websites really need an SSL Certificate you ask??

First of all, any e-commerce website or a website that is passing credit card data through any type of payment gateway needs an SSL certificate. This is even important to remember when you are online shopping because if you are giving your credit card information to a company online you want to feel safe. And let’s be honest, no one wants to deal with the hassle of having their credit card information or identity stolen because they decided to give their information to a random website. Basically, you want to protect any information that could lead to a financial loss or legal consequences if private information is compromised. Here are some examples:

  • Authentication (passwords and login information)
  • Financial information processing (credit cards, bank account numbers, e-commerce stores of any kind)
  • Sensitive data passing through the server (Any personal identification numbers)
  • Health Care providers collecting any type of personal medical information from patients
  • Legal information and contracts that contain confidential information
Source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

Not only does an SSL protect your customers and clients, it also increases trust. You are showing your clients that you care about their secure information. If you are on the customer side and aren’t sure if the site you are on has an SSL there are some things you can look for.

  • Does the url of the site have an ‘https’ rather than http’?
  • Is there a ‘lock’ icon next to the url in the browser? You can also find more information about the SSL by clicking that icon.
  • You can also look for a security seals on the site that would tell you who issued the certificate as well as letting you verify its identity by clicking on the actual seal.

How do you get an SSL?

That’s where we come in as a web development and hosting company. If your site doesn’t currently have an SSL and this is a concern of yours, Standard Beagle can purchase or get a free SSL for you and install it on your server. We will also do the necessary configurations on your website to make sure everything is setup correctly.

SSL’s are a great addition to your website and should be highly considered if you need one based on your current website operations.