Many people hand over highly sensitive information on the internet, but few are capable of recognizing whether or not the website is secure enough to protect that information from unwanted eyes. A great deal of potential danger exists in exchanging credit card numbers, social security numbers and addresses online: identity theft, stolen credit card information and vulnerability to hackers are only a handful of the many reasons why it is worth everyone’s time to learn how to tell whether a website is capable of taking care of private information.

A SSL certificate is the easily recognizable and commonly practiced method of securing websites. SSL stands for “Secure Socket Layer,” and is the standardized procedure for keeping information exchanged over the web inaccessible to hackers.

How to Tell whether a Website has a SSL Certificate:

There is an easy trick to decipher whether a website is secured by an SSL certificate or not. It is as simple as checking the website URL and knowing what to look for: every single website URL is preceded by either “HTTPS,” which stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure, or “HTTP,” hypertext protocol. As the name suggests, URLs beginning with “HTTPS” belong to a website with a SSL certificate.

How it Works:

A SSL certificate closes the door to these unwanted eyes by encrypting all of the information exchanged on a website. This means that only the site administration and their customers are involved in private transactions and that third parties with questionable intentions are shut out.

The SSL certificate is necessary because of the technology involved: a Web browser attempts to connect with a website and requests that it identifies itself. The website then sends a copy of its SSL certificate to the browser, and if the browser decides that it trusts the website, a message is sent back to the website. The website returns a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an SSL encrypted session, allowing data shared between the browser and website to be encrypted and safe from disturbances.

Why Non-Ecommerce Businesses Need SLL Certificates:

SSL certificates are absolutely necessary for ecommerce websites, or any other website where the exchange of personal information occurs. As stated before, an SSL certificate indicated by “HTTPS” is the only way guarantee secure transactions of sensitive information.

That being said, non-ecommerce websites may want to consider purchasing SSL certificates as well. Google became the world’s most trusted search engine by providing users with quality results. Whether or not a website presents the opportunity to exchange private information, Google uses “HTTPS” as an important criteria in deciding where to rank a website in search results. Ranking websites protected by SSL certificates above those without is Google’s way of offering its users with the safest options available.

Yahoo and Bing recently decided to factor in “HTTPS” into their search results as well. Many websites witnessed a decline in traffic from and lower ranking on these search engines when this decision was made. This is because these engines have difficulty in reading SNI, or when multiple SSL certificates share the same IP address. It is important for businesses to be aware of changes such as these to ensure that their websites are discoverable and receive the highest volume of traffic possible.

Who Should Care about SSL Certificates:

Everybody should pay attention to SSL certificates. Consumers need to be able to identify whether the sites in which they input personal information are safe if they wish to ensure that they are not at risk of cyber attacks.

Business owners also need to remember the importance of SSL certificates. Going through the process of acquiring one builds trust with customers by showing consideration for their privacy and comfort. Many people have multiple options when it comes to purchasing something new, and if they don’t feel safe on a website, they are much more likely to leave that site for a competitor’s. Leaving customers vulnerable to cyber attacks could lead to a PR nightmare for an ecommerce business. Purchasing a SSL certificate, on the other hands, builds trust and credibility.

How to Get a SSL Certificates:

Some website platforms make getting a SSL certificate easy, and others do not. For example, web platforms Magento and Shopify include SSL platforms with their service. This means that users of Magento and Shopify do not have to go through the steps of installing a SSL certificate, as the platform does this for them.

If the web platform chosen does not include a SSL certificate, however, a few tasks must be completed before ordering and installing. For one, someone wishing to acquire a SSL certificate must have their own unique IP address. Each SSL certificate requires a separate IP address. Secondly, a CSR outlining the organization name, domain name, public key, etc. must be included in a website so that the certificate authority can use the information to create the certificate. Business or organization validation documents may also be required to ensure that the SSL certificate is protecting a trustworthy website.

Once these items are taken care of, it is time to install the SLL certificate. The installation must take place on the same server or with the same private key that you generated the CSR on. There are many manufacturers to choose from when deciding where to purchase an SSL certificate. Each manufacturer has its own unique installation instructions. Depending on which manufacturer and what kind of validation is required, receiving the SSL certificate may take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a few weeks.

Final Thoughts:

A deeper knowledge of SSL certificates empowers consumers to protect themselves from untrustworthy websites, but also creates a way for ecommerces to communicate their values through their URL. Every web-user can benefit from understanding how to identify SSL-protected websites, what it takes to obtain them, and how they work to protect information.

 

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