SSL – What It Is and Why It’s Important

With SSL on rise we’ve recently had an uptick in questions about it. What does SSL stand for? What is it? Do I need it on my website? How come my website doesn’t show a “locked” icon in Chrome browser but other websites do? In this blog post we’ll answer your most basic questions about SSL and explain why it’s important for you to have.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”, and according to SSL.com it is “the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser”. Have you ever wondered why some sites have http before them in the url bar and some have https? The s in httpstands for “secure” and to get it you need an SSL Certificate. So what does that actually mean? Here is a simple example:

When you’re sitting on the couch with your laptop and surfing products on amazon.com, information is being passed between your computer and the server that amazon’s website is hosted on. When you click a product, amazon sends the info about that product to your computer’s browser (like Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer). When you fill out your credit card info to purchase, your browser sends info back to amazon’s servers.

Now, imagine if a “hacker” could see that information going back and forth. If someone with malicious intent was able to “listen in” on your network activity, it wouldn’t be too difficult to recognize the numbers coming across in sequence as a credit card number.

SSL is what prevents that from happening by providing a secure connection that allows the data to be encrypted before being transmitted over the internet. Still confused? Using our amazon.com example – SSL allows your browser to scramble your credit card information before it gets passed on to amazon’s servers. That way any bad people who might be snooping only see a random jumble of indecipherable code instead of your credit card numbers! This is why SSL is a requirement for sites who sell goods and take credit card payments over the web.

Why is SSL important?

Adding SSL to your website is important because it adds a layer of security that keeps your data (and your customers’ data) private. It also gives your website viewers peace of mind, seeing the “lock” icon in your url bar (and the word “Secure” in certain browsers) always adds a bit more credibility to the browsing experience.

Though security is important, one of the biggest advantages is that Google is starting to give preference to sites with SSL in search results. They began lightly suggesting switching to https in late 2014 and some SEO experts predict that Google will actually begin penalizing sites without SSL in the near future as it becomes more important and accessible.

How can you get an SSL certificate for your website?

If you’re interested in switching to https, contact us today to chat with one of our web developers about getting set up! Or, if you’re interested in taking advantage of our current special, switch to Estland’s new and improved VPS hosting (starting at $14.99 a month) and get an SSL included for FREE – normally a $125 value!