SSL – What is it and why you need it

You may (or may not) have heard about SSL encryption and how it is becoming more of a “must have” for websites, but what is SSL and why should you have it on your website?

SSL – the basics.

Normally when a person views a website page their browser requests the page and the web server sends the page back to the browser, this envolves the website page being broken up into “packets” and sent via a plain text connection. This in general is perfectly fine – if the person is watching YouTube videos or looking up reciepe’s then it doesn’t matter that the packets are sent in plain text format. If the packets are intercepted then there is no sensitive information sent to or from the web server.

BUT… If the web page requires the user to enter personal information into a form (a log in form, a registration form or a delivery form for an online purchase) then the users personal information is at risk.

How SSL works

SSL is an encryption protocol that basically “scrambles” the data packets so that only the web server and the browser can un-scramble them. This works by a pair of “keys” – the public key and the private key. In order for SSL encryption to work the domain (website) must have a SSL “certificate” installed. Once the website has a SSL certificate it can then encrypt data to provide the secure SSL “link” between the website and the user.

When should a website use a SSL connection?

Previously it had been accepted as “enough” for a website to only encrypt financial information (bank details, credit card info etc) but with identify theft becoming a real problem it now advised that you encrypt any page that requires any personal information from the user, this includes any forms that ask for details such as username, password, email address, physical address etc…

What if I don’t use SSL for my website pages that collect personal information?

Just recently 2 of the 3 major web browsers (Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox) have introduced warning systems into their browsers that give quite alarming messages when they encounter a website form that asks for personal information and isn’t SSL protected.

These warnings are very serious to website owners as they can and will make your customers think twice about using your website. Most of the internet is paranoid about identity theft and any user seeing warnings about their personal data not being safe will most likely leave your website – not good!

Google will also provide a small SEO “boost” to websites that utilise SSL encryption in it’s rankings, because you have “bothered” to buy and install a SSL certificate then Google will trust your website more and rank it slightly higher.

So you’ve decided you need a SSL certificate (good) how much do they cost?

SSL certificates cost £50 per year – and protect all the pages of your website, we only provide SSL certificates to websites that we host. If you are a current client and want a SSL certificate then just drop us an email and we will get it sorted out for you.

New customer offer!!

How would you like a totally FREE SSL certificate for your website? That’s right… just move your web hosting over to us and we will install a “Grade A” (best) SSL certificate on your domain for FREE for 12 months! (£50 per year thereafter)

 

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