How SSL Works and Why You Should Secure Your Site with HTTPS

Jessica Connor
September 12, 2019
606 Views

It’s no news that protecting sensitive information is important when using the internet. Email passwords, internet bank logins, and credit card credentials get stolen all the time. You yourself might be protected, but can you say the same for your visitors?

While you can’t keep them under a glass jar, website’s can do a lot to protect their users. In fact, encryption and other internet security measures are a must.

If you want to be on good terms with the major web browsers and search engines, SSL and HTTPS are necessary.

When someone is just trying to run a simple website to promote their local business, such acronyms might make their head spin. But, in reality, you don’t need to be an IT wizard to get the hang of it.

SSL

What is that exactly? SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. Simply put, the SSL certificate lets visitors know they can safely browse, communicate, share info, and buy products on a website. Basically, an SSL establishes a safe connection for such activities.

Think of it as a windshield on your car. Without it, would you speed down the highway in the countryside with all those bugs flying around? The certificate protects your website and its users from all the nasty things lurking on the internet.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your web page is not important enough for hackers. Most interceptions of the sort are done automatically, without a person singling out a particular website. The only goal of creepy web crawls is to find vulnerabilities.

How Does It Work?

It creates an encrypted connection between the server and the user’s internet browser. It’s all done by a so-called, behind the scenes “handshake”.

The visitor doesn’t notice anything while they are browsing the site. But, there’s a back-and-forth between the server and the browser going on in the background. An SSL works to seamlessly protect valuable info exchanged between the two parties.

HTTPS

Don’t worry, we’re not starting the whole story over again. You’ve probably seen HTTP, even though you might not know what it is. To an untrained eye, HTTP and HTTPS seem the same.

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It’s a set of rules for transferring files, such as video, sound, text, graphic images, etc. HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is a secure version of HTTP.

And what makes it secure? An SSL certificate. When you see the letters HTTPS in a website’s URL, it means it’s secured with an SSL certificate. Then, you can rest assured that none of the data that’s passed on between the two parties will be forged or tampered with.

If you want to switch from HTTP to HTTPS, you’ll need a helping hand. It’s not exactly a DIY project.

It’s best to contact your web host or find yourself an IT expert. They will walk you through the process and set the wheels in motion.

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The Benefits

HTTPS brings so much more than just another layer of security. It can change the way others perceive and treat your website.

Ranking

Google, as well as other major search engines, put sites with SSL above others. It’s all to ensure safe browsing for visitors.

The HTTPS is used as an SEO ranking parameter. The certificate will improve your search engine ranking. No matter what kind of website someone owns, who could say no to a higher ranking on Google or Bing?

Google has been open about giving priority to secure sites. They’ve been doing so since 2014.

Trust and Credibility

If your customers don’t know they’re safe on your site, why would they trust you? If they doubt that they are safe, they might not even visit your site, let alone buy something from you. Having an SSL certificate says that you care about your customers and their security.

And getting one won’t burn a hole in your pocket. You can expect to get enhanced web traffic for just a couple of bucks. Sounds a bit strange, but you can buy trust, sort of.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t bring its value down. Not just everyone can get the cert. To get HTTPS in your URL, your cert needs to be approved by the governing authority.

That takes a number of identity checks. So to get one, you have to be a legit business.

So, you’ve always known that you are trustworthy, you just didn’t know how to communicate that to your customers? The cert will tell them that.

Think of it as the FDA seal of approval. Everyone feels more comfortable knowing that the products they use satisfy certain standards.

Protection

Phishing scams are quite common. Hackers use phishing scams to steal sensitive info, like IDs, passwords, credit card credentials, etc. The certificate helps keep your visitors’ information protected from mischievous hackers and scammers.

A cyber-attack can be a huge hit to any business. By protecting your site, you’re also protecting your market share.

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Authentication

Since there are several identity checks, HTTPS tells visitors that they are doing business with you, and not with some impostor. Identity verification is one of the most important aspects of web security.

The certificate proves that your business is a legally accountable organization. It lets visitors know that you’re the one behind the domain name and that it’s in the right hands.

The web is flooded with all sorts of deceptive sites. Those aren’t just practical jokes. Plenty of them are set up to steal someone’s money.

Think of it as the Twittersphere. Everyone can claim to be Johnny Depp there, but only the real Johnny Depp has a verified account that lets people know it’s really him tweeting behind it.

Conclusion

It wouldn’t be fair to mention the cost of not having HTTPS. When you visit an HTTP website via Firefox or Chrome, you’ll receive a message saying “site not secure,” or it will be displayed next to the site’s URL.

When you don’t have an SSL certificate, your website is automatically branded as unsafe by the two most popular web browsers. Just like they reward secure websites, search engines punish the ones that aren’t. It’s clear that we have entered a new era of online security.

If you run a website, make sure to put your users’ safety above everything else. They will pay you back with their loyalty. Everyone likes to have peace of mind when shopping online or just surfing the internet.

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