Working within the web development and online security industry, many clients come to me and ask:
- “Why do I need an SSL Certificate for my website?”
With those on the other end of a website asking:
- “What does an SSL Certificate do when I visit a website?”
Besides the fact that the cost of an SSL Certificate can be as low as only $5 per year from SSLTrust.
One of the best ways I like to answer these questions is to consider the point of view of potential customers to any website; why they need security and how they check for it.
When you, as a customer, visit the said website, you instantly start to share information. Sometimes without even knowing it! It becomes more evident as you sign up for a service, make a purchase or fill out a form.
With this information being transmitted through many networks/nodes to reach the website and back to you again, there is always the possibility of this information being leaked. The further the distance the information is being sent (maybe you are visiting a website hosted in another country) the more chances there are of interception.
This is because the information is being transmitted in plain readable text. If anyone with ill intent were to be monitoring this transaction or exchange of information, they can see what is being sent and received. It does require a certain level of skill to be able to perform such a task and thus the possibility is not always high, but it is there. And it does happen.
SSL Certificates provide a much needed tool to help with this issue: for both the website owner and for the visitor to the website.
The SSL Certificate will encrypt this information in a way that is unbreakable, and can only be decrypted and read by the website and visitor. You can safely transmit your personal details and/or credit card information to the website without it being intercepted and read by 3rd parties.
So, as a customer, you can look out for the SSL Certificate, installed and used on a website, and thus know that your information is being sent safely, with encryption.
The main indicator is evident in the websites URL. It should always start with https:// instead of http://
This indicates that a secure layer has been established and you are talking to the website through a securely encrypted SSL protocol.
Some browsers will also show a padlock near the URL bar, such as in chrome.
In many browsers, you can also click on the padlock to show the details of the certificate and to whom it has been issued.
If you are a visitor to a website, you should be looking for an SSL Certificate that has been installed and is being used on all pages that require your information. Forms such as contact forms, checkout forms or signup forms are then safeguarded as your information is being transmitted online.
And, as a website owner, you should be securing all sections of your website where you are requesting information from your customers/visitors and sending information back to them. Customers are looking to deal with businesses that they can trust and who take the security of their personal details very seriously. The SSL Certificate ensures your customers that you indeed do this.