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SSL – What You Need To Know

/ Technical
Security is on the mind of many people and for good reason. In this post Duncan explains what SSL is and why every website and application should have an SSL certificate, no excuses!

Over the last few years we have seen website and server security come to the forefront of people's minds. On any random day of the week it would be unusual for us to not get a question about SSL – and that’s great! We want our customers to be thinking about security, it’s essential that everyone does.

However, when it comes to SSL, there’s a lot of confusion out there. So I’m going to try and help by answering three key questions we regularly get:

  • What exactly is SSL?

  • Should I have SSL on my website?

  • How do I get SSL up and running?

Understandable questions to have, and thankfully the answers are pretty simple, so let's get started.

What is SSL/TLS?

Using SSL (which stands for Secure Sockets Layer) is a way of increasing your website’s security by encrypting all the data that is transmitted between your customers and your website. The customers' web browser also uses the SSL Certificate to verify the identity of the website, ensuring the customer is not on some nasty site trying to trick them.

Surveys show 84% of respondents will abandon a purchase if they know it’s not secure.

Should I have SSL on my website?

Absolutely – there are many reasons to use SSL and almost no reason why you shouldn’t. I’ll touch on three reasons that I feel are most important but if you need further convincing this website should do the trick.

  • Data Security – Almost every website handles data in some way and it needs to be handled with care. Encrypting the data sent by your customer (and the data you send back to them) helps prevent names, addresses, phone numbers and other private information getting stolen. If you’re running an e-commerce website this is even more important as you will be handling credit card information and that’s without going into PCI compliance.

  • SEO Ranking – Google are big supporters of SSL and they have publicly stated how it impacts search rankings. They also visually mark websites that don’t use SSL as not secure! We all want to be at the top of Google searches, it’s good for business after all, and now having a secure website plays a big part of that.

  • Trust – It goes without saying that you want your customers to trust you, and we all know they want their information to be kept private, especially credit card details. Having an SSL certificate shows that you also value their data and are taking steps to protect it. GlobalSign did a survey in 2014 (PDF) and it showed 84% of respondents would abandon a purchase if they knew it wasn’t secure.

Alright, I’m convinced, how do I get SSL?

I’ve got good news for anyone who is currently using our Cloud Containers platform – you can easily add free SSL certificates to your websites through our control panel. We even have a handy article that walks you through the steps. If you’re on one of our other platforms get in touch and we'll sort you out.

If you’re not a SiteHost customer then I’d recommend getting in touch with your hosting provider of choice, as they should be able to get you up and running with SSL. If you’re more the DIY type I’d recommend having a look at Let’s Encrypt, it’s a great option.

Now if you don’t already use SSL, go get started!