Web Wednesdays: What is an SSL?

What Is An SSL

While browsing online, you may notice some website addresses begin with “https://” or “http://.” Although the visible difference is minimal, the true difference between these phrases is significant. Securing a business website is a vital measure which drastically improves your visitor’s trust and confidence. It’s an excellent approach to protecting your visitor’s data and helps to amplify the number of enquiries and sales from your website each month thanks to the added trust an SSL brings.

In our most recent Web Wednesdays, we’ve written about website security disasters and manageable tips to enhance the security for your WordPress website. In today’s Web Wednesdays, we present one of the most significant steps to protecting your website and help prevent your customer’s data being stolen. So, let’s get on with the show!

What is an SSL?

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security technology which is utilised to form an encrypted connection between a web server and a web browser. This ensures sensitive data which the user inputs, from a contact form for example, is protected. 

Lock

Explore in More Detail

Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL for short, is a cryptographic protocol which provides enhanced security over internet communications. Not too long ago it was principally only used for websites which offered online shopping features or dealt with sensitive information, however investing in an SSL certificate is now deemed common practice for all websites as it’s important to offer a secured experience for all visitors.

The History

The term SSL is somewhat misguided and can be confused with TLS (Transport Layer Security). SSL was originally developed in the ’90s by Netscape and officially released in 1995. Following the release, they produced upgraded versions to address vulnerabilities and support stronger algorithms, however in 1999 a never version of SSL was released named TLS.

Although SSL certificates have become a familiar name since then, when you actually acquire an SSL certificate it will most likely be a TLS certificate instead. You might also sometimes see them called SSL/TLS certificates. This is because the term SSL has become a trusted name which many of us are familiar with.

How it Works

SSL certificates are used to transfer data privately to safeguard any sensitive data, which prevents criminals from viewing and modifying data. This is accomplished by ensuring the data transferred remains impossible to read by employing encryption algorithms which jumbles the data during transportation. When you access a website, you can recognise whether a website has an SSL by examining the website address. If the address contains HTTPS at the start of the URL (or you see the green lock symbol in the address bar) then it’s secured. For example, https://www.google.co.uk is secure, but http://www.google.co.uk is not.

Getting an SSL

The magnificent thing about SSL certificates is that they’re relatively simple to set up. Once you’ve purchased an SSL certificate for your domain, you can simply route visitors to https:// instead of http://. To obtain an SSL, simply contact your hosting provider or enter your online control panel and buy an SSL certificate. Most hosting providers now provide a selection of SSL certificates to choose from (in most cases the minimum SSL type you need is a domain validated certificate), but if yours doesn’t, then you can use services such as Cloudflare which provide free SSL certificates. At Success Local our website hosting also includes SSL certificates for businesses who want to protect their website.

Once you’ve acquired an SSL certificate, simply update the URL’s on your website to point to https://. For some, this could be a tricky task if you possibly didn’t build your own website, so it can be beneficial to speak with a web professional if you’re in doubt.

HTTPS Example

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, acquiring an SSL certificate for your website is a necessary action for any business which your website needs. It has tremendous advantages which Google has continued to show the significance of in their search engine and browser. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about SSL certificates please do not hesitate to get in touch with Success Local.

Stay tuned for next week’s Web Wednesdays where we present simple checks you can employ to ensure your website is secure.

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