What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL Certificate is a data file which adds an encrypted key to a website offering an extra layer of security which allows for secure connections from a web server (where your website is hosted) to a browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox etc. You can tell if a site has and SSL installed by looking in the address bar for the website and you will see two indicators:
- In front of the URL there will be a green padlock symbol and the word Secure after it,
- Also where the URL usually starts with http you will see https.
SSL stand for Secure Sockets Layer. You don’t need to know this but most people ask anyway and are then none the wiser.
How do I know if I need and SSL for my website?
Until quite recently only websites which required you to enter credit card details or use a username and password required an SSL. This was because any computer between you and the server where the website was hosted could see the sensitive information. Having a secure site made sense.
Well this all changed some months ago when Google update their browser Chrome (which is the most commonly used browser worldwide by far) with some extra security feature checks which can prompt the user with a warning that a site is not secure when it is visited for the first time by an individual.
You may well argue that your site is not storing or requesting any sensitive information so and SSL is not required and you may well be correct. However, Google Chrome could still flag your site as unsecure and if such a warning is displayed the user will go no further and probably never visit your site again. Not good for business.
How do you get an SSL Certificate?
You can go online and work it out for yourself or you can ask your website host to do it for you. You will most likely be charged a set up fee and an annual renewal.
You don’t really have a choice in the matter so you should organise a certificate for your website. Considering prevalence of cyber hacking of everything online, anything which makes websites more secure has to be a good thing.