SSL Certificates: Everything you need to know

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17 Jul 2023

SSL Certificates: Everything you need to know

If you're the owner of a business that has (or is planning to have) a website, it's essential that you understand the importance of SSL certificates. This article will provide you with everything you need to know about SSL certificates, including what they are, how they work, why you need them and the different types available. Read to the end and you'll have all the knowledge you need to make sure you've got your website’s SSL certificate covered.

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a crucial element of your website security, providing an extra layer of protection for handling sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers. It does this by 'encrypting' data sent between your website and your visitors, meaning that it converts their data (like a credit card number) into a random code, and provides authentication, confirming that your website is the one it claims to be.

Do I need an SSL certificate?

If you have a website, yes. SSL certificates are an essential tool for any business operating today that wants to ensure the safety and security of its visitors. Here are the most important reasons:

  • Having an SSL certificate helps to build trust with your customers that you are taking all the required steps to protect their data from malicious attacks and hackers.

  • Some internet browsers show pages that don’t have SSL encryption as 'not secure', which can have a negative impact on your visitors. If you have an SSL certificate, your site's URL starts with the prefix "https" and a padlock icon will show in the browser bar, reassuring your visitors that your site is secure.

  • Sites that are protected by an SSL certificate show up higher in a search results page. Google now considers whether a website has an SSL certificate when determining its ranking algorithm. This means that having an SSL certificate is essential for any website that wants to encourage more visitors.

How can I get an SSL certificate?

SSL certificates are available to purchase from a range of providers, with varying features and costs. It is important to ensure you select the right SSL certificate for your website as, depending on how much data your site collects from its visitors, this will ensure optimum security.

Where do I get an SSL Certificate?

Your main choice when choosing an SSL certificate is whether to obtain it directly from a Certificate Authority such as Let's Encrypt or Comodo, or to have an SSL certificate included in the package you get from your website hosting provider.

If you have an e-Commerce site that is going to be processing a lot of payments online, it will probably be worth paying a bit more to protect your business. If you decide to get an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority, they will tell you the steps you need to take, from verifying your domain ownership to installing your SSL certificate on your website server and then testing that it works.

For those looking for a more cost-effective solution, free SSL certificates may be available with some web hosting or site builder packages. However, it's important to ensure that the certificate you are using is secure, as some free SSL certificates may not have the same level of encryption as paid certificates.

Maintenance requirements

Once you have installed your SSL certificate, it’s important to maintain it properly. This includes annually renewing the certificate and updating the server software and security patches.

Need more digital advice for businesses?

If you need 1-2-1 advice about managing digital for your business, including SSL certificates for your website, why not speak to one of our V-Hub Digital Advisors by phone?

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