The secure socket layer (SSL) is a protocol that allows visitors to your website to send information to your server fully encrypted. Encryption is a method that prevents anyone from seeing what information sent was. Encryption is absolutely necessary when you transmit information that is sensitive, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, personal information and more. An SSL certificate ensures that users can depend on your site to protect their information while it is in transit. This is why you need an SSL for your business website.
Why encrypt data?
When data is transmitted between a user’s browser and your server, it goes through a number of different machines in transit. From the user’s web browser, it will go to his router or modem, then to his internet service provider. From there it transits through multiple computers before it gets to your web server. It is not uncommon for a single web request to go through more than 15 different machines between the browser and the server.
At any point during that process, data can be scanned by a malicious party. For example, let’s say the user’s modem has been compromised by hackers. Those hackers can then snoop on the data packets transmitted between the user’s browser and your server. However, if the data packets are encrypted, using SSL, the data will not be readable.
Any common web server can issue an SSL certificate. These are called “unsigned certificates.” Many websites use unsigned certificates to provide encryption without having to pay for a signed certificate. That’s fine for testing purposes and even for limited internal usage. It, however, will not pass muster for real world, daily business use.
A signed SSL certificate is issued by a certificate authority (CA). Most companies that sell domain names also sell signed SSL certificates. These certificates from the CA ensure that an encryption request is actually from whoever claims to originate the request. That certificate belongs only to your domain. And it will be installed only on your web server. This assures users that their data is only going from them to you, without being exposed to anyone else. The certificate is issued by the CA with the intent it is only valid for a proscribed period of time. After that, a new certificate much be purchases and installed.
SSL certificates are essential to retaining customers. Modern web browsers are designed to check SSL certificates for authenticity. If you have ever seen a message from a browser about not being able to verify the owner of an SSL certificate, or that a site’s certificate has expired, then you have encountered this issue with your own web browser. Users typically navigate away when these messages appear. It is essential that your server has a valid SSL certificate configured properly to prevent these messages from appearing.
If you are processing credit card payments through your bank, then your bank will have an independent auditor contact you to verify Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards compliance. PCI compliance is meant to ensure that your server does not risk customer data. Your bank will not allow you to handle credit card transactions if you do not pass a regularly scheduled PCI compliance test. The first step to passing this test is having SSL properly installed.
An SSL certificate protects you and your customers. It is an essential part of running a business website. When you are choosing local internet options also add to your list SSL providers. There’s no reason to hedge around deploying proper security on a business website. It is good for your customers, and it protects you, too.