March 8, 2017 237MW

What Is an SSL Certificate and Why Do I Need One?

SSL Certificate

An SSL Certificate is a must-have! As a result of the many high-profile security breaches for large companies, the majority of online users expect the sites they visit to be secure and protected. It’s easy to believe that only big businesses and websites need to have a security certificate, but that’s just not the case. For a minimal cost, you can purchase an SSL certificate that tells online users that you care about their privacy and protection.

What is an SSL Certificate Anyway?

SSL stands for secure socket layer, and it is a security protocol that establishes a safe connection between the user and server over which information is sent. You may have noticed that some website URLs start with https:// instead of http://. That extra “s” is an indication the site is secured with a certificate. An SSL Certificate is a digital document given by a certificate authority, which verifies your web URL is actually owned by your organization, not some third-party imposter.

Why Do You Need One?

Data sent over secure sites is protected by three layers of security. First, there is encryption, which ensures that while the visitor is on your site, no one can track what they do or steal private information. Second is a layer that provides data integrity so that transmitted information cannot be changed or corrupted without detection. Finally, an authentication layer proves your visitors are actually on your site, not an imposter site created by an outside source.

Security Best Practices

You don’t have to be a webmaster to add a certificate to your website. However, some of the terms used in the process might be foreign to you. Here are the basic rules to follow:

  • Make sure to use a reputable certificate authority that offers tech support. Many web hosting companies offer this service.
  • Decide on the kind of certificate you need. For websites with limited pages, you’re probably fine with a single certificate for a single secure domain. However, if you use multiple domains or have dynamic subdomains, you might need a multi-domain certificate or a wildcard certificate.
  • Create a redirect so that site visitors and search engines go to your https:// URL even if they type or click on a http:// address.
  • Ensure search engines can find your site. Don’t block pages with robots.txt files, and don’t include meta noindex tags. Run a test using Fetch as Google to see whether Googlebot can find your pages.

Need help adding a security certificate to your site or want to upgrade the one you have? We’re here to help with the process.

 

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