Security Alert! Don’t Leave Your Site (Or Your Customers) Vulnerable
Spyware, malware, ransomware. What’s the deal with all those wares? All sorts of nasty stuff creeps around online and can compromise your site and your visitors.
A secure site is a must-have for any online presence today. Read on to find out how SSL works and why it’s necessary for your website.
The Importance of Online Security
Today more than ever, hackers and malicious programs pose a serious threat to the average user. With more than 100 million computers under the control of hackers, the online world is a dangerous place!
Many users don’t even know their computers are infected. It can be as simple as installing a program that seems legitimate, or even just visiting a site, especially if that site doesn’t have an SSL certificate.
Investing in online security has multiple benefits for companies of all sizes and scopes, as well as individual bloggers:
Protect your Customers’ Personal Data
If hackers access sensitive data through your website, your customers will suffer and your company will lose reputation. Trust is very hard to build and almost impossible to regain after it’s lost. Letting hackers access that kind of data can even lead to expensive lawsuits.
Protect Your Own Assets
Some hacking attacks can take your whole site down. This can lead to expensive downtime and traffic issues. Especially online stores lose a lot of income for every hour they are offline. Additionally, investing in online security can work towards building a positive brand image and online reputation.
Protect Other Sites
Many malicious programs spread from site to site. Malware can infect an entire shared server and move from site to site. This can cause significant damage beyond your own site.
On the flipside, if you protect your website, you are essentially making your shared server neighborhood a bit safer for everyone!
How SSL Works
If you want to keep your online assets and your visitors safe, it’s important to understand how SSL works.
SSL stands for “Secure Socket Layer” encryption. Basically, SSL encrypts all information that goes in and out of your website, so that it cannot be intercepted by hackers. SSL is very powerful against automated attacks (also known as bots).
SSL works by installing a certificate on the website that automatically encrypts and decrypts data between the site’s servers and browsers accessing it.
SSL is vitally important to protect sensitive data. This includes contact information, addresses, credit card numbers and friendly email lists. Information intercepted by hackers can be used for all sorts of malicious purposes.
Users can easily tell if a site is protected by SSL by checking the web address of that site. Most browsers will display a locked padlock next to the URL if the site is SSL protected.
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SEO and Regulatory Compliance
SSL protects your online assets and your visitors. It also gives you several other benefits.
All major search engines, including Google, place value in secure connections. For that reason, they give websites with SSL a boost.
If your site is protected by SSL, it will be ranked higher than an identical but unprotected site. This is huge for online businesses, but also for personal blogs that bring in some extra income through advertisements.
If you plan on running shopping advertisements, your site must be protected by an SSL certificate. SSL is mandatory for running Google’s AdWords on ecommerce sites, and other ad services have similar requirements.
Moreover, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI), requires all online trading sites to access customer information through SSL encryption. Basically, this means that you can’t sell anything online legally unless you use SSL.
So, SSL is MANDATORY for ecommerce businesses, and not complying with the security standards council can lead to hefty fines!
Types of SSL Certificates
There are several SSL plans to choose from. SSL comes in 3 types, offering different levels of trust and security:
- Domain Validated certificates (DV)
- Organization Validated certificate (OV)
- Extended Validation certificates (EV)
Domain validated certificates are the cheapest SSL certificates. They check against domain registry, but can’t be used to validate if a business site is legitimate.
Organizational certificates are the standard “trusted” SSL certificate level. They are authenticated by actual agents against government hosted business registry databases. Corporate websites require at least OV SSL to be compliant.
Extended validation certificates offer the ultimate encryption against hackers and malicious software. Used by ecommerce giants and global enterprises, EV certificates use the strictest authentication process and are virtually impervious to hacking.
Ecommerce and Building Trust
Online shopping is booming, but many consumers are still apprehensive.
It just feels awkward to give credit card information to a trader half the world away. As ecommerce is essentially cross-border trading, this is a valid concern. Shady merchants can just steal your credit card and drain your money.
The success of ecommerce giants like Amazon lies in their reputation. Amazon has never been hacked (to date), and its SSL is ironclad. If you plan to make it big in online sales, you simply need SSL. This would have been true, even if SSL was not mandatory by the security standards council.
By protecting your site with SSL encryption, you give your customer a quick and easy way to see that your business is secure and legitimate. More and more users understand how SSL works and click to see the certificate on their browser before shopping.
When customers come to your site, their browsers request a connection and retrieve any security certificates you might have. Some browsers won’t even let users visit sites that are not encrypted by SSL, which can lead to a huge loss of traffic.
Now that you know how SSL works, you can appreciate it’s importance.
We have seen how SSL builds trust, integrity, and confidentiality between customers and websites. For online businesses and ecommerce sites, SSL is now a legal requirement, but all sites stand to gain a lot by adding a solid SSL certificate.
Adding an SSL certificate is easy. Just contact a reputable certificate authority (CA) for step-by-step instructions on how to get your site SSL-certified. It’s hassle-free and can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.