The Importance of an SSL Certificate: Why Every Website Needs One

« Back to all Articles Menu Adapta Interactive

in today’s modern world of data breaches, sensitive data thieving and online spoofing, “https” is essential. This represents a website that offers SSL encryption: a safe way of transmitting and receiving data that ensures your sensitive information remains safe at all times. SSL encryption is used to protect everything from credit card numbers, to passwords, to names and addresses and more.

How SSL encryption works

Without getting too deep into the technical aspects of SSL certificates, it’s important for website owners to understand exactly why their site needs to have an https prefix. That means understanding how SSL encryption works. Websites seeking SSL encryption need to apply for an SSL certificate—which is technically a pair of certificates containingpublic and private encryption keys.

The public encryption key is based on the private one. When data is input into your website, it’s encrypted with the public key; when the server registers the information, it’s decrypted with the private one. 

This ensures the data can’t be viewed or tampered with between the two points!

The “s” that’s added to a website’s http prefix signifies that it offers SSL encryption, signaling to users and computers that the site handles data carefully. This generally means it’s safe to enter sensitive information.Protecting sensitive informationBecause of the end-to-end encryption offered by an SSL certificate, it’s possible to transmit data through a website that might otherwise not be safe to give out.

The best example of this is a credit card number. In fact, an SSL certificate is required by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) for all websites processing credit card transactions! Here’s how it works:

You check out through an ecommerce site and pay with your credit card. After you type your credit card information into your browser and hit “send,” the card number is protected with 256-bit encryption, which means anyone intercepting that data would have to work through a nearly-infinite number of combinations to guess it.

Once received by the payment server, however, the decryption key will quickly decrypt the card number so it can be processed. The same process works for just about any piece of information that might be deemed sensitive. It protects users from having to worry about their valuable data being intercepted between the pointof submission and the intended destination.

Protecting your website

More than just protecting user data, website administrators should have an SSL certificate for their own protection!SSL is extremely important for preventingman-in-the-middle attacks, phishing attempts and other malicious activity. Here’s an example: You receive an email that appears to have come from your domain—it has the same as your website.

But, it’s actually a phishing attempt, spoofed by someone trying to get you to click a malicious link! If the email can’t provide the proper SSL certificate to the server, your computer will instantly know it’s a fake and alert you,

so you don’t open it or click anything malicious. Again, in protecting yourself you’ll also be protecting visitors to your site. These same phishing attempts will be thwarted so long as they don’t match the private encryption key used  to authenticate them.

Operate with confidence

No matter what type of website you run—ecommerce, service-based, informational, educational, government, etc.—there’s absolutely no reason to not have a valid SSL certificate for your website. In fact, most modern web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox will actually block your site from loading if there’s no SSL detected!More than just staying compliant with PCI standards or appeasing browsers, operating a site with an SSL certificate will give your visitors peace of mind and project you in a responsible light.

Whether they’re enteringcredit card information, personal data or some other type of sensitive data, they’ll do so knowing it’s being handled with care.And, most importantly, you’ll avoid the liability that can come with mishandling data that’s input into your site.As a final note, simply having an SSL certificate isn’t enough—you also have to maintain it.

Most SSL certificates last several years at a time, however they do need to be renewed. There are also different types of SSL certificates to consider depending on the level of validation your site demands. It’s important to speak with a knowledgeable web developer when it comes to first making sure your site has SSL encryption and second, that it’s the right level andsetup to properly renew

Contact Form

Click to refresh image