If you have a website or are in the process of having one built, you’ve probably heard of an SSL certificate. Your web developer may have told you that you need one or you may already have one, but what is an SSL certificate? What does it do and why do you need one?
As a website owner, an SSL is a component of your website that you will have to purchase annually. There probably isn’t anything that you purchase every year and not have any idea what it is or why you need it.
For many, all the different aspects of website technology are mind boggling. While it isn’t necessary for the average layperson to learn everything about what makes their website work, it can be helpful to have an understanding of the basic components, what they do and why they are important.
The Acronym Defined
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and it is a security protocol. Along with TSL (Transport Layer Security), it is one of the most widely utilized security protocols. Basically, SSL provides a secure channel between two devices communicating over the internet or on an internal network.
While the bulk of society depends on the internet for almost everything, it is common knowledge that it is not the most secure venue. In order to secure information as it travels across the virtual landscape, a security protocol in necessary. An SSL security protocol is typically utilized for business websites.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL certificates are small data files that unite an encryption key with all of a business’s details such as their domain name, server name or hostname as well as the business’s name and location.
An SSL certificate is installed on a web server to provide a secure connection from the web server to a browser. Once the certificate has been installed, it will change the application protocol, also known as HTTP. The HTTP in your address bar or browser will change to HTTPs. The “s” stand for secure.
Depending on which type of certificate you purchase and which browser you are using to navigate the internet, A padlock icon or a green bar may also appear in the browser when a visited website has an SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate is typically used by a business to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins. Currently it is becoming more common for securing browsing of social media sites.
How Does an SSL Certificate Work?
An SSL certificate uses an encryption scheme public key cryptography. This type of cryptography utilizes the combined power of two keys, one public and one private. The public key is known to your server, available in the public domain and can be used to encrypt any communication. The private key is necessary to decrypt the communication.
For example, let’s say Dorothy sends a message to the Wizard on her way to Oz. When she sends the communication it is encrypted or locked with the Wizard’s public key. When the Wizard receives the communication it is decrypted or unlocked with his private key. Should it be intercepted by a hacker, a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West, between the website and the server, the communication will remain encrypted and secure.
Why Your Website Needs an SSL Certificate
Installing an SSL certificate on your website protects your sensitive information such as credit card information, usernames and password along with keeping your data secure between servers.
Having your website secured with an SSL certificate can positively impact your Google ratings. Seeing the HTTPs or the padlock icon up in the browser can also increase the trust level of visitors to your website and in turn, increase conversions.
Which SSL Certificate is Right For Your Business?
There are various types of SSL certificates, each offering a different level of protection. Figuring out which one is right for your business can be overwhelming. Whether you’re updating your existing website or we’re designing a new one for you, the team at Creative Click Media can guide you to the perfect SSL certificate for your business. Contact us today so we can help you find the right WordPress security and maintenance package to keep your website safe.