An SSL certificate is built up of small files which create a cryptographic key and link that key to an organizations details. When a user visits a website that uses an SSL certificate they are now in a secure connection with the server (computer) where that website is hosted. This means that any information sent back and forth (credit card information, login details etc) are encrypted and cannot be snooped upon.
What is an SSL certificate?
Have you ever gone onto a website and seen that green little lock in the corner? Here is an example from a few of the main internet browsers;
Internet Explorer 11
If you look up into your browsers address bar, you should see our address with a https:// at the start. This is a great example of a standard SSL certificate.
Extended Validation Certificate
You may also see a more prominent lock / area in the address bar that includes the company name and country. Here is an example;
You will generally see these locks and the https:// protocol being used on websites where you can buy things through their online shop. Now the internet tide is changing and in a move to protect user privacy - more and more websites are implementing a SSL certificate.
Does my website already have an SSL certificate?
The quickest and easier way to check for this is to load up your website with a browser and look for the little lock, it may be green or grey (see the examples above). The website would also have the s (for secure) in the protocol so instead of http://www.example.com you would see https://www.example.com.
What are the benefits of having an SSL certificate?
- Google has noted that it can have a slight seo increase in your search engine rankings (source)
- More companies and organisations are moving towards this. It would be good to have your website established as secure before people get used to it as the "norm" but then not use your website if its still unsecured.
- Internet browsers will start to warn users (source) that the website is unsecure (this could scare the user off and stop them from using your website or buying your product again).
- You don't have to be selling things online or have a super popular website to warrant getting an SSL certificate
I've heard there are different types of SSL certificate, what does this mean?Different certificates can be used for different types of websites. You may be an online shop that processes user information and require a strong and very secure certificate or you may just have a 'brochure' type website that shows information but you require a basic certificate because you have a contact form and you want to reap the seo benefits.
Can't someone just visit the https version of my website? Do I really need a certificate?
If you try and point someone to the 'https://' version of your website in the hope that they will receive the secure version then unfortunately they will be greeted with a warning message. This could reflect very baldy on you and your website. Here is an example;
In the address bar:
In the main window (where the website normally loads):
Ready to reap the rewards of an SSL certificate?
If you would like to add an SSL certificate to your website or would like to chat about something else website-related then feel free to phone us (01476 576 839) or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).