SSL – what it is and why you need it

In the past couple of years, you may have started hearing murmurings about “HTTPS” or “SSL certificates” and perhaps you heard that you need it. Well, I’m here to clear up any questions you might have.

Put simply, an SSL Certificate is both proof of your ownership of a domain (website) and a means of encryption to ensure that private details, such as credit card numbers, can’t be intercepted and read as clear text.

HTTPS is the protocol (kind of like a secret handshake) that is used when an SSL certificate is present.

You’ll know if a site has an SSL certificate because, in your browser address bar, you’ll find a lock icon.  In some browsers, the address will be green.

Do you need one?

If you are selling online or gathering personal data, yes, you absolutely should have one.  Both to protect your customers and to protect your own business.  Also, customers are more likely to buy from you if your site is secure.

If you aren’t doing either of those things, it’s still a good idea to have one.  Google announced a few years ago that they would start rewarding sites with an SSL certificate a higher ranking than similar sites that do not have one.  This is because having an SSL certificate conveys a higher level of security and better customer care.  So, having an SSL certificate can help your ranking.

How do I get one?

Your hosting company should be able to provide you with an SSL certificate.  Many hosting companies can provide one at no extra cost to your hosting.  You will have to contact your hosting company, or your web developer, to organise this.  Once the SSL certificate is available, you can switch your website over to HTTPS. If you need help with this, please send me an email.

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