Secure socket layer or (SSL) is a standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between the server that hosts your website and your customer’s web browser. This encrypted link allows data to be passed securely to and from your customer’s web browser.
The SSL protocol was originally developed by Netscape in 1994 and has continued to evolve. For many years, SSLs were typically found only on websites that transferred sensitive information like credit card data, banking information, or social security numbers. However, with the rise of wireless internet use, there has been a strong push for all websites to use SSL encryption to protect customer data because it has become so much easier for hackers to intercept unencrypted data.
How do I know if I have an SSL installed?
In most modern browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox, if you have an SSL you will see a lock in the top left corner of the address line of your browser right next to your website address. If you do not have an SSL, the address line will either show an information icon or text that specifically says “Not Secure”. The “Not Secure” message is generally shown when a form is present on the page to alert a user that filling out that form could compromise the information they enter.
Why should I invest in an SSL?
The most important reason to invest in an SSL is to protect your website user’s data. Whether you’re collecting sensitive data like credit cards or birth dates or simply allowing users to interact with your website, the internet has become a risky place. As a website owner, it is your duty to do your very best to care for your customers’ data and provide them with the most secure browsing experience possible.
Above and beyond caring for your customer, there are a number of ancillary benefits that will directly impact you when you make the investment in an SSL.
- Improved Search Engine Rankings – In 2014, Google introduced SSL as a ranking factor. They shared that websites with an SSL received a slight ranking boost in the Google search results. Many search engine optimization experts believe that this boost has been amplified over time. A 2020 study from a prominent SEO group suggests that this boost could be as much as 5% of your overall rank calculation.
- Improved Conversion Rate – Your conversion rate is the percentage of people that contact you or purchase from you after visiting your website. Essentially, this rate shows how many of your visitors turn into prospects or customers. Since 2018, browsers like Google and Firefox have shown a message that says “Not Secure” in the address bar on lead generation forms, contact forms, and shopping cart checkout experiences. If your website says “Not Secure” it is likely you’re missing out on traffic from tech-savvy or cautious users.
- Lowered Risk – When you have a website, you take on some risk. You don’t necessarily know how your website visitors will interact with your website, what information they will type in, or what they will attempt to do. We have seen patients send protected health information through simple contact forms for clinics. We have also seen customers send in banking and routing information through forms intended for email sign-ups. You don’t have a lot of control over what your customers do or say online, but adding an SSL helps lower your risk and liability in the event of misuse of your website or system.
How Do I Install an SSL?
The process of installing an SSL is a bit complex. The SSL is purchased from a certificate authority or CA. A certificate authority is an entity that issues digital certificates that certify the ownership of a public key by the named subject of the certificate.
In the case of a website, a certificate signing request or CSR is generated on the server. It is used to purchase an SSL certificate from a 3rd party certificate authority. The certificate authority then transfers to the purchaser an SSL certificate that is installed on the server and connected to the associated website.
It is also important to note that SSLs have an expiration date, most commonly one year. Each year, it is important that you schedule an update in time to navigate these steps prior to expiration and keep your website security in place.
The good news is that if you’re already hosting with Zipline, we take care of the entire process for you. For a small fee of $175/year our team will install, configure, test, and monitor your SSL, making sure that you stay safe and secure! If you are interested in exploring this more, please feel free to call us at 866-440-3158 Ext. 2 and we will gladly assist you with your migration to a more secure internet!