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You may have noticed when typing in an URL that some URLs begin with the letters HTTP whereas others start with HTTPS, though now, most browsers keep this information hidden. It’s possible too, that you’ve also noticed a tiny lock icon to the left of the URL in your browser! Today at DragonTech, we’re going to look into what it means exactly.

Websites which have the HTTPS in front of them are protected and encrypted by an SSL certificate, whereas websites that have an URL beginning with HTTP lack an SSL certificate protecting their site.

So What Is an SSL?

The Secure Sockets Layer or SSL for short is a security protocol which has been developed to protect sensitive data being sent through the internet. If a website you are using has an SSL certificate protecting it, it’s a sign that the site is secure and encrypted, ensuring that any data that passes between your device and the website will be safely shared with the website. Nowadays, most business websites on the web have SSL protection, and as a business owner, you should always look to ensure that your site is protected. As a web user, you will also want to be wary of websites that do not have an SSL certificate protecting you from having sensitive data stolen. 

Think of entering a website as in going through a tunnel. A site that isn’t secured by an SSL is poorly protected, almost like a tunnel made of tissue paper. It’s possibly safe, but still has a high level of risk attached, with outsiders potentially being able to actively access data you enter into it. A site with an SSL is like going through a much stronger tunnel, one made of a strong metal that they can’t easily access. Depending on the level of encryption in the SSL the tunnel goes from being very safe to extremely safe.

This becomes incredibly important when it comes to being a consumer or a business owner. Let’s say you are a customer, entering private, sensitive data onto the website, such as your bank card information. Without an SSL in place, a hacker could easily intercept this information and use it for many different things that could have a massive negative impact on your life. As a business owner, you have the responsibility of ensuring a customer’s data is protected, so an SSL is incredibly important.

The hacker usually intercepts this kind of information by placing a small listening program onto the server that’s hosting the website. This program effectively captures information going to and from the website, allowing them access to information between website owners and customers. An SSL will protect customers and website owners alike from people who would want to intercept and abuse their information. 

When visiting a site that is secured by an SSL certificate, the browser forms a private connection with the web server and links to it. This private connection is secure and encrypted ensuring that no one besides the web server and device linking to it can access data that passes from one to the other. The connection happens instantly, requiring no manual work. The SSL automatically ensures that the connection happens safely and securely.

So why is the SSL so Important?

Asides from protecting sensitive data passing between devices and the web server, the SSL is also incredibly important for SEO purposes. In 2014, Google made several key adjustments to it’s algorithm prioritizing SSL certificates on websites and penalizing websites that didn’t have an SSL certificate on them. Sites without SSL certificates were regarded as untrustworthy and potentially dangerous for people going on them, so the algorithm changes reflected this. Google’s plan was to protect its users from going onto what became classified as high risk websites, and their algorithm changes reflected this. 

Sites protected by an SSL certificate have an SEO boost and will be selected above sites which don’t have the encryption. If you want your website to be discoverable on Google, then having an SSL certificate on your site is an absolute must!

SSL Certificates and Online Payments:

If you are a business owner and running an online store, taking payment transactions through your website, then it’s absolutely necessary to have an SSL certificate to protect your customer’s data. You have a responsibility to ensure that your customer’s data is always protected from online fraud.

The SSL Certificate will provide a layer of protection that will keep your customer’s details encrypted. 

Consumer Trust

One of the most popular web browsers by miles is Google Chrome. Over 44.5% of internet users use Google Chrome in order to surf the web. With Chrome, users are easily able to spot a site with an SSL certificate. To the left of their URL, they can see a small padlock icon. SSL secured websites will show the site as being locked, whereas unsecured websites will show an open padlock with red text reading “Not Secure.” Now not every user pays attention to this, but those that do are less likely to feel comfortable using your website knowing the possible risks.

SSL certificates have become a necessity for every business with an online presence. If you deal with sensitive, or even basic customer data storage or transfer, you will definitely need one for your site. This will show that your business values customer trust, and the SSL can be essential to your success, customer conversions and growing your business presence online.

At DragonTech IT Services, INC. we value all our customers and ensure that everyone we work with has an SSL certificate installed on their website. Our SSLs are provided by Let’s Encrypt and can range in the quality and complexity of their encryption to ensure that our customers always have the highest level of protection on their websites.

Whilst we are based in the Chattanooga area, Tennessee, we are always happy to provide an SSL certificate for your website if you do not have one installed – no matter where you are located globally. For more information, contact us today!