What is an SSL?
Secure Sockets Layer certificate adds essential security to online transactions. It basically provides a secure connection between the internet browser and a website, making it possible to transmit all your private data back and forth. You will know that a website is secured via SSL if it displays a padlock in the browsers URL and possibly a green address bar if secured by an EV Certificate.
In order to protect their customers and make sure their online transactions remain confidential, millions of e-Business providers are using the SSL protocol. Through encryption a website submits the highly confidential data – credit card details, passwords or any personal information, while a web browser has the ability to interact with secured sites only if the site’s certificate is from a recognized certificate authority.
Why using SSL is essential for my site?
It is simple, actually – the bigger the market, the higher the risk. The Internet is providing new global business opportunities for enterprises conducting online commerce, and as this is happening almost on a daily basis, that expansion has also attracted online con artists and triggered cyber criminals to use and exploit any chance to get their hands on consumer bank account numbers and credit card details. This is easily doable, even by a moderately skilled hacker who is able to intercept the traffic and get the data, unless the connection between a client and a webserver is encrypted.
If you want to make sure a website uses SSL and a digital certificate is installed, look for a padlock icon in the browser address bar. When a site uses Extended Validation Certificate, the address bar will turn green if the transaction sessions are secure. On the other hand, the users on webpages with SSL Certificates will see https:// in the address bar as well.
The Authority behind SSL’s
These certificates are issued by a certificate authority, or CA, only after the identity of the company applying for the certificate is confirmed, and after it is proved that the applicant indeed owns the domain named in the certificate. The certificates are then attached a ‘trusted root’ certificate owned by the CA and then embedded in what is known as the ‘certificate store’ in popular internet browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Only if a browser comes across a website certificate chained to a root in its certificate store, will it allow the https connection to proceed. When the browser encounters a certificate not chained to a root in its store, it alerts the user that the connection is not trusted, prompting the user not to submit any confidential data.
What data is covered by a certificate?
SSL Certificates are issued to companies or legally accountable individuals. They typically contain the domain name, company name, address, city, state and country, as well as the issued and expiry dates. They also contain details of the certificate authority responsible for issuing the certificate.
When a browser asks for a https connection to a certain website, it immediately retrieves the website’s certificate, checks if it has expired, checks whether it is chained to a root in its certificate store, as well as if it is being used by a webpage for which it has been issued. If the browser by any chance recognizes a discrepancy and some of these checks fail, it will immediately display a warning message to the end user.
Invalid SSL Certificate equals bad user experience!
Online shopping has become an everyday thing and more and more people are choosing this way of buying necessary and not-so-necessary products via various websites. Now, imagine they are trying to purchase something on a website, but keep getting a message that the secure connection has failed and the site is using an invalid certificate. 9 out of 10 users won’t think twice and will abandon the purchase right away. This way the user experience on that site won’t do the company much good.
Invalid SSL certificate can cost a webpage many users, while it can also present a serious security threat as the user’s information may be vulnerable and prone to hacking and phishing scams, becoming a major liability issue for the company. It can also result in downtime for the whole website.
The bottom line is that instead of having a win-win situation, you end up having a completely opposite scenario in which both the company and the customer loses. In order to prevent this lose-lose situation from happening to your own website and company, make sure you keep SSL certificates up-to-date.
Positive User Experience Builds Trust
Aside from its primary function of data encryption, SSL promotes and keeps a stable and healthy eCommerce ecosystem via safe and secure online experience. Website users who feel more secure are more likely to buy something from your store.
Since SSL certificates are indicated by the aforementioned lock icon in the address bar, this visual cue has a positive and reassuring effect on a visitor as they are aware their connection is secured. Also, if a visitor clicks on the lock icon, it will take them to a screen with even more detailed information about the company and its website. This screen usually provides information about cookies and stored passwords on the domain as well, which further raises the level of security.
Furthermore, webpage owners often need to connect a real world identity to the domain in order to enable an SSL certificate. This way SSL encryption protects you from the unwanted and potentially hazardous eavesdropping on vulnerable data, as well as keeps those tricky fake websites from taking your money via impersonation of legitimate brands or even people.
In the end, with every new webpage that adopts SSL and starts using SSL certificates, web community becomes a tad more educated and protected, thus giving importance to the necessary trust which leads to the even healthier eCommerce landscape. By enabling SSL on your site, store or even blog, you will protect your precious users and make them feel more secure when it comes to complete the desired interaction.
You can purchase an SSL from Crucial here.