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Get a Padlock!

You may have seen or heard people reference something called an SSL Certificate and wondered what it is and whether your website needs one.

Whenever you visit a website or send an email there is a transmission of information, for example between a Web server and an Internet browser, or an email server and an email client.  To secure and protect the transmitted data an SSL Certificate can be used.  SSL stands for ‘Secure Sockets Layer’ and it is a security protocol that enables the transmission of private data over a secure Internet connection.

What are the advantages of having an SSL Certificate?

1. Securing Forms
Most websites these days have a form of some kind.  These might include contact forms, questionnaires, newsletter registrations etc.  When a form is completed and submitted, that information is then transmitted across the internet.  Even if you are collecting very basic information such as name and email address, there is a chance that information could be intercepted.  An SSL Certificate will help protect this information.

2. Protect Login Gateways
Essentially this is the same issue as above but if any of your pages are password protected you should consider an SSL Certificate.  Membership sites are a common example of sites with login gateways.   These tend to have a username and password entered via a form.  Multiple logins can create a number of opportunities for hackers.

Another use is to protect content managed websites.  We tend to design websites using WordPress because we can allow our clients to edit their websites.    The editing function is accessed via a username and password which would be secured by an SSL certificate.

3. Accepting Secure Payments
Many people now have e-commerce enabled websites and are accepting payments over the web.  The obvious risk here is to customers personal information and to their financial information.  If you use a service like PayPal you are largely covered as transactions happen on their servers.  However if you plan to accept major credit cards online without using a third party like Paypal you will find that most major credit cards will require you to use an SSL certificate.

4. Search Engine Optimisation
This is increasingly becoming the driver for people to get an SSL Certificate.  Google now use the presence (or absence) of an SSL Certificate in their algorithms for ranking websites.  Overtime if your rivals have SSL Certificates and you don’t, you are likely to see your website slip down the search results.

For the most part an SSL certificate ‘does it’s thing’ in the background.  However you can tell whether a site has been secured by the following:

  1. The URL should start with ‘https:’ e.g. https://www.robertgreenmarketing.com
  2. Most browsers will display a padlock in the browser bar
  3. You will quite often see a badge, icon or logo stating that the website is secure.  Often you can click on this icon to check the SSL Certificate is valid.

If you would like to know more about SSL Certificates please get in touch

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