SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology which creates the encrypted connection between the server and the browser. This encryption ensures the integrity and privacy of data being shared. It protects the data from being stolen or forged in between the server and the browser. SSL certificate is mandatory for the websites where sensitive and private data are shared. It is added benefit for other sites due to the SEO benefit that one gets for having a secure website.
Importance of SSL for a website
SSL is primarily used for information encryption. The encrypted data can be read by the server and intended browser only. Information shared on the internet passes through multiple servers before reaching the final destination. For example, if you are using the internet from your mobile, it first reaches to the gateway of your mobile network, then to the other proxy servers and gateways then only to the server. When several servers (computers) are involved in data transfer, your data can get stolen from any of them. SSL helps to prevent the data stealing by encrypting the data. Even if your data is stolen, what thieves get is highly encrypted data which is useless for them.
Your browser doesn’t accept every SSL certificates. It checks the authenticity of the certificate as well. Your browser should trust the organization which issues the certificate. If it cannot trust the certificate, it simply avoids the data sharing and warns the viewer not to visit the website. Besides, your browser also checks if the SSL certificate is up to date. SSL certificate is issued with the certain expiry date. This is done so that anyone cannot get time to decrypt the SSL encryption. If the SSL certificate is expired, the browser stops the connection and warns the user about it.
Besides, you can check the SSL details yourself as well if you are using Firefox Mozilla browser. It shows the company owning the certificate, its expiry date, the company issuing the certificate, level of encryption and much more. This way, SSL provides authentication as well.
Accepting online payments
If you are running the online shopping site or any other site which involves online payment, you are obliqued to use trusted SSL certificate with at least 128-bit encryption. If your site cannot provide such encryption, you cannot accept the online payment. This is called Payment Card Industry compliance. This way, you need SSL certificate even to accept the online payment.
Protects against phishing
Phishing is the attempt to obtain the sensitive data like username and password, credit card information, etc with the help of website or web page which looks similar to the original site. Many people have been stolen with such phishing sites. You are sent emails to change your password with the link to the phishing page. When you click it and provide your details, that reach to the hand of the guy behind it.
SSL helps to protect from phishing as well. SSL certificate is issued by the trusted issuer only. So, any phisher cannot duplicate the SSL certificate. That’s why they often use the page without SSL for phishing. When you see HTTP page instead of HTTPS page, you can easily know that it could be the phishing attempt.
Improves customer trust
You often have to ask for email address and other sensitive information from the viewers of your website. In such case, a rational person will check if your site is protected with SSL or not. If you’re using HTTP site, he/she knows that there is data security issue. So, they may avoid providing such information to you. But, if your site uses SSL properly, web browser shows the padlock and the Secure badge before the link. This helps you to earn trust from your customer. This way SSL helps you to improve the customer trust as well.
Improves your brand power
Companies issuing the SSL certificate to you provide the seal or other images which indicate that site can be trusted for sharing the sensitive information. Besides, some SSL issuer provides data security guarantee as well. Such seal and trust help you improve your brand power if you use them properly in your website.
Better ranking in Google
Google has announced that it is going to provide small SEO benefit for the sites using proper SSL certificate. If two pages have similar ranking power, the one with SSL certificate is shown before in the search engine. Well, this can become very important added benefit of using SSL certificate on your website. And, you know how important is it to reach on the first page of Google search and have even 1 ranking benefit in it.
Where to find free SSL certificate?
If you need to buy SSL certificate, it can cost you something like $60-$200 depending upon the trustworthiness and validity of the certificate. But, does it mean that you cannot protect your website for free? No! There is a free SSL certificate issuer as well.
Let’s Encrypt is the company which has been offering free SSL certificate for years. They provide SSL certificate with the validity of 3 months. But, good thing is that you can update your certificate for absolutely free. Yes, it is totally free to use SSL certificate forever. And, there is no limitation to the SSL certificates that you can get from them. I currently am protecting my 2 websites with the SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt.
CloudFlare is another great company offering free SSL certificate. All you have to do is pass your all traffic from CloudFlare and encrypt the connection between CloudFlare server and the browser with the SSL certificate provided by them. You needn’t update the certificate yourself. It is done automatically by the company. So, your website is always protected with updated SSL certificate.
I personally recommend you to use both Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate and CloudFlare SSL certificate for the optimum data security. CloudFlare’s SSL certificate only encrypts the connection between the CloudFlare server and the browser. The connection between your main web server and CloudFlare’s server also need to be protected. This can be done by installing the SSL from Let’s Encrypt in your web server. CloudFlare works well with the SSL certificate of Let’s Encrypt. So, you can use Full Strict SSL setting in CloudFlare.
I hope this article was useful for you. If have any query related to SSL, kindly add a comment below. I’d love to hear from you and help in any way I can.
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