Google announced that its browser Google Chrome will flag websites without SSL with a “Not Secure” warning message. Because of this security requirement, the rest of the other browsers will likely follow suit to help enhance the online security experience. Encryption of data transmitted from web browsers to web servers became the standard for website security. This is why there’s a growing number of webmasters that are shifting to HTTPS from HTTP.
When your website is not secure, this negatively impacts your online marketing because of increased bounce rates. Additionally, when a search query is entered in a search engine, the more secure website is what will be shown on top of the search results.
In the competitive world of e-commerce, for businesses to survive, it needs to generate leads that can potentially help increase conversion rates, too. Without an SSL on your website, visitors will be less likely to trust you which will result in a significant disadvantage.
What is SSL and How it Works
SSL is the acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. It is the security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web browser and a server.
This standard technology protects your website’s users from interceptions or man-in-the-middle attacks. Thus, limiting the possibility of information getting stolen when sent to a website — such as passwords, bank transactions, credit card information, or logins. With SSL, you can establish an encrypted link between the website and your site visitor’s browser. Here’s how it works in the backend:
- When a browser attempts to connect to a website secured with SSL, it requests that the website identify itself.
- The website sends the browser a copy of its SSL certificate.
- The browser checks to see if it trusts the SSL certificate. If it does, it sends a message to the website.
- The website sends back a digitally signed acknowledgment to start an SSL encrypted session.
Although the process is intricate, all of it is invisible to online users. We’ll only know that we are protected by an SSL encrypted session through the padlock icon in the browser’s address bar.
What are the differences between HTTP and HTTPS?
You may already know that “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and that the additional “S” stands for Secure, making it Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. While both are essentially the same for referring to the same hypertext transfer protocol, the demand for data privacy and a more sophisticated internet security system gave birth to HTTPS.
- HTTP has no data encryption implemented while HTTPS has, making HTTPS more secure.
- HTTP can be intercepted and potentially modified, making both the information and the information receiver vulnerable to attacks. On the other hand, HTTPS is a secure extension of HTTP powered by TLS or SSL. With HTTP, sensitive data entering sites will be sent as plaintext which means it is susceptible to interception.
- HTTPS requires certificates to verify website identity while HTTP does not require certificates.
- HTTP is mostly used in educational sites and open discussion forums where secure access is not necessarily required since no sensitive information is exchanged therein. HTTPS is mostly used in bank websites, login pages, payment gateway, and corporate sector websites.
Types of SSL certificates
There are three types of SSL certificates. Each offers three different levels of user trust. They are:
- Domain Validated Certificates (DV)
- Organisation Validated Certificates (OV)
- Extended Validation Certificates (EV)
Domain Validated (DV) certificates offer basic encryption which makes them easier to install compared to the Organisation Validated (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) certificates.
So, why do I need SSL for my website?
SSL is becoming a must-have for every site. Remember that SSL has become a standard of security for websites that collect personal information — login details, banking details, and many more.
Choosing your Certificate Authority
Each Certificate Authority has different products, levels of customer satisfaction, prices, and features.
Beyond the big names and the low prices, you’ll need to determine the data handled by your website when choosing an SSL certificate. Naturally, the more sensitive information you handle, the higher the type of security you should consider getting. Set your specific requirements and make sure that the CA (Certificate Authority) you choose suits your needs.
How to identify an SSL-protected website
Even though the encryption process remains imperceptible to the naked eye, there are visual cues that help anyone understand that security is implemented on a website. They include:
- Padlock icon: If you noticed that padlock icon on the web address bar, it’s not there for no reason. It indicates that the link between the web browser and the web server is encrypted. Seeing that on a website where you enter login details, addresses, and personal information assures you that your details are not for anyone to take.
- Seal: CAs offer a Site Seal along with the certificate. A seal is a visual indicator that all transactions are protected. The Site Seal is displayed by companies to tell visitors that they are trustworthy, and value security.
- HTTPS: Protected sites have HTTPS instead of HTTP displayed on the address bar. Also, sites that use extended validation certificates (EV) turn the address bar to green to indicate the highest level of internet security.
Why get an SSL
Google now demands it
It is no secret that Google favours HTTPS. They even announced that Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as non-secure which started last June 2018. Think about the negative influence this has on your marketing and brand. Additionally, newer features rolled out for websites will only be available for servers and browsers using the HTTP/2 protocol. With all of these factors, it is less of a choice and more of a demand to switch to HTTPS.
Web users are more tech-savvy than before
Online users already understand the intricacies of tech and information technology better than before. With the advent of smart mobile phones, awareness of the dangers of a non-secure site had significant effects on how customers do business online.
Protects the integrity of a website
Website integrity involves ensuring that messages or documents have not been modified. If your website is not secure during a restricted transaction like online banking, a hacker could change the recipient’s account to theirs before the banking server receives the request. SSL uses MAC (Message Authentication Code) to verify that data has not been tampered with during transit.
Protects the privacy and security of users
When a user’s browser connects to a website server, sensitive information, such as usernames, account information, passwords, account information, and payment methods are kept confidential; even when an intruder spying on the network traffic, they would not be able to decipher the information.
Why switch to HTTPS?
When customers see that their information is well-handled, this helps build a trusting relationship. A trusting relationship with online users not only retains an existing customer, but you also get your customers to advertise your services/products for free.
See? Websites are switching to HTTPS not just because they have the interest of their customers at heart, but also because of the many benefits that come along with it.