Do I need an SSL certificate?

The Short Version

We’ll just say it: yes. Your website needs any SSL certificate If you’re asking for any personal information. But that’s not all there is to it. Search engines are cracking down on perceived ‘non-secure’ websites. Any websites without the SSL certificate will remain http while those with encryption will show https in users’ browsers. Chrome, Firefox and other browsers have began issuing warnings that non-https sites are insecure. Additionally, Google recently announced SSL is a ranking signal, so unless you have SSL your site will be harder to find, impacting on your traffic and revenue.

You’ve probably noticed that some website URLs start with http while others begin with https. The s stand for secure encryption, which can only be guaranteed with an SSL certificate. It's common among sites that require users to hand over sensitive information such as credit card information, home addresses, and financial data.

Even if you haven’t noticed it before, it’s likely your website visitors have. Even a novice web user these days knows online fraud is on the rise and with it, it’s more important than ever to be able to determine whether they are using a website with a secured web connection (SSL) or not.

The eCommerce world has many data breaches, and they’re rapidly growing. Every website owner should think about bolstering their site security. Without SSL, your site visitors and customers are at higher risk of being having their data stolen. Your site security is also at risk without encryption. SSL protects website from phishing scams, data breaches, and many other threats. Ultimately, It builds a secure environment for both visitors and site owners.

People treat non-https sites that ask for personal information with caution and so does Google. The search engine is so determined to protect users from insecure websites, it’s taking whether or not a site has an SSL certificate into consideration. For anyone hoping to make money online, this should be reason enough to get one.

You might still be on the fence about adding SSL to your website. Does my site really need it? Is it necessary? And finally, Which certificate do I need? Keep reading for answers.


Is SSL Necessary?

Let's start with the basics: What is SSL? An SSL certificate encrypts the data that goes from a user’s computer to the target website and back. Every time a user enters information into your site, SSL makes sure it can securely travel from their browser to your web server.

What does this mean for website owners? Websites communicate with their customers to share information, and so that they can buy products or services safely with you online. Without getting overly technical, adding an SSL certificate creates a safe connection for those kinds of activities. The most important thing to grasp about SSL is that anything that needs to be secure online should under the protective umbrella of an SSL certificate.

You might have gone to some lengths to bolster your site security but without SSL, it's unlikely to be enough. Website are free to operate online without an SSL certificate, but you must ask yourself whether you want to take the chance that yours is susceptible to hacking? Probably not.

It was once sufficient to depend solely on basic antivirus software and firewalls for the protection of your business and home computer. That’s no longer the case; today’s users are bombarded with malware. Securing customer trust and confidence should be up there with the most critical factors to consider for anyone operating a business online.

Consider the motivation behind any external party getting hold of your visitors data. Their intention won't be good; it's most likely their purpose is to manipulate the information or use it for identity theft. As such, the onus is on the website, or online business to take active steps to counter these measures, in a effort to look after these customers. In doing so, you’re ensuring continual confidence in the use of your web services, higher customer retention and, more importantly, the reduction of data theft.

To sum up, an SSL certificate is more than protect your transactions and your customers’ private information. It will also help to build trust between you and your customer base all the while making your business more reputable.

SSL Encryption Offers the Following Advantages

  1. High encryption levels of up to 256-bit to protect user’s sensitive information.

  2. Provides strong encryption to protect the users’ information from phishing scams & attacks.

  3. Protects websites from attack, reducing the risk of hacking, eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

  4. Can provide a positive influence in Google’s evaluation of your website.

  5. Establishes a safe shopping experience - It’s necessary for websites accepting payments.

  6. Proves your business authentication and increase your brand reputation by validating your Business from Trusted Certificate Authority (CA)

  7. Displays Green Address Bar along with Organization Name (Only for EV SSL).

  8. Enhance user’s trust & confidence while increasing your organization’s profits - Users trust the website with the ‘secure connection’ sign.

Finally, SSL saves you money. Think about it, a security breach is a legal problem, and any customer data compromised as a result of one could result in substantial legal repercussions for the company. Employing preventive measures will save a lot of financial issues such as these in the long run. Adding SSL to not compromise on maintaining web security both to protect your customers and also the welfare of your business.

Is SSL Required for my Site?

If you're not sure whether your site has SSL, you can easily find out by checking the URL of the site. If it starts with HTTP, you aren't secure, and if it begins with HTTPS, then your website has an SSL certificate. Some internet browsers have began publicly shaming sites without SSL. Different browsers have imposed different indicators of whether a site is secure. For example, Google Chrome will signal the site is ‘not-secure’ in the browser bar while Firefox will label them ‘non-secure’.

You might want to think about adding an SSL certificate to your website is if any of your pages are password protected. This especially includes WordPress or other database-driven sites with a login page for the administrator. Anyone with access to this login can modify your pages or take your entire site down.

Today, an e-commerce world has many online data breaches, and they are rapidly growing over the internet, so every website owner must have an SSL Certificate to encrypt user’s information & keep them safe and secure on the internet.

To summarize, these are the reasons your website needs SSL:

  • If your site has a login, you need SSL to secure usernames and passwords.

  • If you are using forms that ask for sensitive customer information, you need SSL to stop your customer data from being appropriated by hackers.

  • If you're an ecommerce site, you may need an SSL certificate.

Do I Have Logins to Secure?

Not everyone collects money online. Some websites collect information. This could be anything from newsletter subscription forms to subscription to a newsletter. If your site has forms that ask for even the most basic information, such as name, phone number, email address and home address, you should be using SSL.

Any site with forms asking for user information should make sure their web forms are secure. Without an SSL certificate, these forms can be intercepted, easily. Technically, whenever a user inputs data in different fields in your website that information directly goes to a server or stored elsewhere. This way of exchanging information is easy for even beginner hackers to intercept.

Chances are your clients would not want that information leaked and will avoid using your services if there’s a chance this could happen. Not having SSL on your site could impact on sales and subscriptions due to visitors not filling out forms on unsecured pages. If you have SSL Certificate installed, you became a trusted owner of your user information and securing them.

Do I Use Forms With Sensitive Customer Information?

If your site has a way users can log in with a username and password, then you should think about using an SSL Certificate on your login page. Without it, their passwords are transmitted in plain text and could be intercepted by hackers anywhere along the journey from their computer to where your website server is located.

Do You Have an E-commerce Site That Stores Credit Card Information?

Credit cards and social security numbers are two of the most notable types of sensitive data that need an SSL certificate. It's unlikely anyone would want to put their customers at risk of having their credit card information stolen while using your site?

E-commerce sites may need an SSL certificate. If you are or plan on accepting major credit cards online, you need a merchant account - most of them require you to use an SSL certificate. If the eCommerce website has no SSL, visitors may abandon the shopping cart and as a result, sales will suffer.

Not every e-commerce site needs SSL

Some websites use e-commerce shopping cart tools that come with their secure payment system. In these cases, a third party handles the credit cards or provides another method of paying online. If you use a third party payment gateway and the sensitive data is processed at the gateway's website, then you don't need SSL.

Let's use Paypal as an example. When a customer buy items from your website, and you send them to a site like Paypal, paypal processes the payments. Paypal has the SSL certificate so it can safely contacts the bank and finishes the transaction on your behalf. For this kind of e-commerce, because your website is not capturing sensitive data, you do not need an SSL certificate.

What if I None of the Above Apply to Me?

There are other reasons, however, to add an SSL. If your website doesn’t collect sensitive data, like credit cards or social security numbers, you may not have needed an SSL certificate in the past. However, with the new browser notifications, it’s now essential to ensure every website has an SSL certificate and is loaded via HTTPS.


SSL and Google

While the real purpose of SSL is securing information between the visitor and your site, there are other benefits, namely pleasing Google and the opportunity for a page rank boost. Google is serious about its browser security, and has taken the stance that ALL data submitted to Google listed websites should be secured with SSL.

From October 2017, Google launched the new version (version 62) of Google Chrome, and this version would show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page (meaning pages without an SSL certificate) that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure.

The idea is that website browsers know the information is going over the internet unencrypted. No doubt this will have a profound impact on user experience. No one wants to go to a website labeled not secure. Popular browser Firefox has taken a slightly different approach to highlighting insecure sites. They highlight the password box with a special note about insecure forms.

As much as these may seem like harsh measures on behalf of Google, it is rewarding HTTPS websites with a favorable ranking over insecure sites in their search engine results.


Which SSL Should I Use?

There are different ways to show visitors that your site is secure. There are certificates to let your site visitors see the SSL belongs to a verified organization whereas basic versions simply show HTTPS in your web address.

Different websites have different requirements for the type of SSL they need. The one appropriate for your domain depends on a few factors. To evaluate your needs against the different types of SSL certificates, ask yourself the following questions:

How many domain names do I need to secure?

Single-domain SSLs cover just one domain or a subdomain. These are available as Standard, OV, and EV. To secure multiple subdomains, opt for a Wildcard SSL, for example, you might secure yourdomain.com which would also cover any subdomains such as blog.yourdomain.com and shop.yourdomain.com. Wildcard SSL is available as Standard or OV certificates.

Can I use a Shared SSL or do I need my own certificate?

Both Shared as well as Dedicated SSL fulfill the primary aim of SSL, both transmit data in encrypted form over networks. Whether to use Shared SSL or opt for Dedicated SSL depends on your specific needs, as well as how much money you have to spend. One of the main differences in using a shared or dedicated SSL is the how the URL will appear to your visitors.

A Shared SSL URL will look something like this: https://yourservername.yourhost.com/. While with dedicated SSL, the URL is determined by you, either as another registered domain or as a subdomain of your website domain name. Opting for a secure, private URL would look more like this: https://yourname.com/.

Many people are drawn to the shared SSL certificate because it's quick, convenient and cheaper. Saving money on a less costly shared certificate could leave free up some money free to use for other things. On the other hand, if your dream is to build your online business into something high profile, making a lot of sales, it might be worth it to spend extra on getting a dedicated SSL certificate.

How much do you value your visitors security?

When browsing SSL offers online, you might notice a sharp difference in pricing between them. While it is highly encouraged for businesses to invest in SSL, period. I'd advise against using cheaper alternatives such as Domain Validated (DV) Certification. Unfortunately, DV won't offer much help in protecting your site from sophisticated attacks from hackers. As the name suggests, all this certificate requires is verification through a domain name and an email address. Beyond these two basic pieces of information, there is no way to ensure that the website is really safe or legitimate, which is why these aren't trustworthy, or effective.

Conversely, EV SSL certification (Premium Extended Validation) is a quick-fire way to let your site visitors know your organization is according to the high standard required to obtain SSL certification. EV websites include a prominent indicator, commonly a green address bar to assure visitors they are browsing a safe site.


My Website Isn’t Secure. What Should I Do Next?

If you are running an E-commerce, online services or some other business where your users have to put their credentials, SSL Certificate is a must for you. However, if you are running a small blog or magazine website you also need SSL Certificate. Since Google officially announced that security of your site is also a ranking factor, all websites should take note.

Many legitimate certificate authorities and hosting providers offer SSL certificates. To get your SSL certificate, you just need to verify your domain name and business ownership, and it's as simple as that. SSL Certificates are available for free, and there are premium versions available now for a decent price. Anyone can get SSL certificate easily to avail the benefits of their security, their visitors security and their Google ranking.

For more information about the types of certificates available and how to set them up, here is a helpful guide. Once you’re ready to make your site secure, take advantage of one of Namecheap's highly competitive SSL certificates. We offer easy set-up certificates for small websites, businesses big and small, as well as multi-domain solutions.

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