You’ve likely heard of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). But, there are varying levels of understanding about the basics of SSL/TLS, how each relate to having a valid SSL certificate, how and why your site visitors would want to recognize a trusted site, and perhaps most importantly, how to get an SSL certificate and install it yourself.
First off … what exactly does SSL/TLS do? Simply put, it’s used for encryption protection of online transactions of sensitive data using standard security technology.
What’s the difference between SSL and TLS? TLS is newer than SSL, and while they do essentially the same thing, some services require the more modern TLS protocol instead of SSL.
Perhaps the two most recognizable signs that a site has a valid SSL certificate installed, is the small padlock icon followed by https, rather than http.
By clicking the padlock, a visitor to your site can see the validity of the certificate.
There are lots of benefits of having that little padlock icon and https, but here are just a few of the most important:
- It protects confidential information your customers have provided your system. If you’re collecting credit card or other sensitive information from customers through your website, it’s imperative to have an SSL certificate.
- It affirms your credibility. Certain browsers warn users that a site may not be safe if they don’t have a certificate. It instills confidence and trust in your site
- It helps you gain certain types of compliance (PCI, for example). All businesses that store, process or transmit credit card data electronically are required to gain PCI compliance, and having an SSL certificate is one step to getting there.
- It increases your site’s search engine ranking. Search engines like Google consider sites with an SSL certificate to be more credible, and therefore your site will index higher than those without a certificate.
Those are just a few of the reasons installing and maintaining your SSL certificate is important.