What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that applies encryption to websites. Encryption is the process of scrambling data into an undecipherable format which can only be read with the decryption key. This protects the data moving between the website and visitor (or vice versa) from being hacked during transmission, enabling safe transactions and inspiring consumer confidence.
SSL is short for “Secure Sockets Layer,” and is the name of the original encryption technology used in SSL certificates. This technology is now called TLS which stand for “Transport Layer Security” so sometimes you will hear security certificates called “TLS” certificates.
A TLS/SSL certificate is issued after the owner of the domain name is verified by an industry regulated Certificate Authority.
Once the certificate is installed onto the hosting server, it authenticates the domain operating the website and enables encryption of all the data flowing between the website’s server and the visitor to ensure the integrity of all information transmitted.
How do I know when a site has TLS/SSL encryption?
Have you ever noticed that some websites start with “http” and some start with “https”? Http or “Hypertext Transfer Protocol,” is the conventional way to transmit information over the Internet.
When you see “https” in the address bar, you know a website has an SSL certificate enabled. The “s” after “http” stands for “secure” and means encryption has been applied. You will see also see a padlock symbol displayed.
Why are TLS/SSL certificates so important?
The growth of internet technology has attracted new forms of fraudsters and cyber-criminals who are ready to exploit any opportunity to steal consumer bank account numbers and card details. Any moderately skilled hacker can easily intercept and read http traffic unless the connection between the internet browser and a web server is encrypted.
As a result, identity theft and “unsafe” browser warnings are a growing concern among consumers. Knowing a website is encrypted provides a sense of security that the information you are sending and receiving can be trusted, particularly when it comes to e-commerce.
In July 2018, Google announced it would mark all http sites as “not secure” by displaying the red warning page. Since then, websites have felt first-hand the impact of not having an SSL certificate as visitors and potential customers are deterred by the “ not secure” warning.
Failure to select the right TLS/SSL certificate for your website can quickly compromise customer trust no matter what kind of business you have but if you are collecting any form of payment online, you want to be certain your customers are not presented with insecure warnings before visiting your site.