These days it’s not the petty thieves that wait to jump you in dark alleys that most people are afraid of; it’s those skilled online cybercriminals that can steal your identity unnoticed, only for you to find that your bank account has been drained, or some sensitive personal information has fallen into the wrong hands.
Cyber safety is, without a doubt, one of the leading concerns for corporate and government institutions as well as on an individual level. Any data breach can have hard-hitting impacts like companies being hit with hefty fines by compliance institutions and the loss of customer trust.
Most small businesses never manage to recover from a severe cyberattack. That is why the use of SSL certificates has risen in popularity in recent times. They are very crucial in protecting your site from data breaches.
They come in many types and categories depending on your needs. A cheap wildcard SSL certificate, for instance, will cover your primary domain and all related sub-domains.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is an encryption protocol that is used to secure web communications between a web server and a client browser. Usually, data transmitted in an HTTP protocol is readable and can be intercepted by a hacker.
However, once you acquire an SSL certificate and you install it on your server and configure properly, the protocol is upgraded to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). This means that data being transmitted will now be encrypted, and even if a hacker managed to intercept it, they would not be able to decode the encryption.
An SSL certificate generates two sets of keys, a private key, and a public key. A private key is generated on your computer during a certificate signing request, and you should always store it safely and make it for your eyes only because if you lose it, your SSL certificate is useless and you will need another one.
If it falls into the wrong hands, your data will no longer be private because a third party can access it. The private key connected with the public key on the client browser to authenticate that the data has not been tampered with and decrypt it for the intended recipient.
Importance of SSL Certificates
Migrating your website to HTTPS has immense benefits; especially in these cyberattack-prone days that we are living in. Some of the top perks of these certificates include:
Protection of data
One of the main benefits of SSL certificates is the protection of data. Strict laws are governing the handling and sharing of personal information such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
SSL certificates encrypt the sensitive data being sent from your client-server such as names, email addresses, credit card details, medical records, and so on. If such information were to be compromised on your website, you would face serious legal action and hefty fines as well as losing your customers. You, therefore, always need to have SSL encryption to stay safe.
Authenticating your identity
Cases of identity theft continue to soar with every passing day. The most common form is phishing, where hackers will create a fake website that is identical to yours to trick unsuspecting visitors into providing sensitive personally, identifiable information such as bank details.
They will also send phishing emails purporting to be from your company to trick users. SSL certificates solve this problem by confirming your identity and indicating that your website is the original. Getting an EV SSL certificate, for instance, will include your company name in the address bar when you click on a padlock.
Boost in search engine rankings
Google has placed heavy emphasis on websites adopting the use of SSL certificates. To drive this point further, they have set SSL encryption as a ranking factor on search engines. This means that migrating to HTTPS will take you some spots higher in search engines.
Every website owner wants this to happen to them, and so you should acquire a proper certificate for your site like the cheap wildcard SSL that covers your main domain along with all sub-domains.
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Complying with the payment card industry requirements
If you are creating an eCommerce store or plan to accept any form of payments on your website, one of the requirements set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is having a valid SSL certificate.
Without SSL encryption enabled on your site, you can kiss your million-dollar dream goodbye because leading card companies like American Express, Visa, and Mastercard cannot partner with you. You, therefore, need to make your selection from the many available certificates in the market.
Improving customer trust
Trust is a very crucial component for succeeding in business. The more your customers trust you; the more bank tellers will know your name. The HTTPS Everywhere initiative embraced by leading browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera marks every site without SSL as Not Secure.
Even someone that knows you personally may think twice before proceeding to your website that is marked as Not Secure. This can be a significant turn off for prospective site visitors. On the other hand, when you install an SSL certificate, your site migrates to HTTPS and has a padlock to indicate that the connection is secure.
If you use advanced types of SSL certificates like the EV SSL, your website gets a dynamic seal and an HTTPS address bar that also indicates the company name when the padlock is clicked. Such features improve customer trust.
SSL certificates are no longer an option for the rich or extensive websites; they are mandatory for any serious website owner seeking to succeed online. There are different types to suit your needs.
A single domain certificate, for instance, covers just one domain In comparison a multi-domain certificate covers multiple different levels of domains, and a cheap wildcard SSL certificate that covers one primary domain and all its sub-domains.
Another option is to choose an SSL certificate based on validation levels such as domain validation, organization validation, and extended validation certificates. Whichever certificate you go with, you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe, and your site visitors are protected.