Why do I need an SSL certificate for my website?
You might have noticed recently that more websites you visit have a “woah don’t go there!” or “not secure” warning – this may even have happened to your own site, and it’s something you need to take very seriously.
I have never needed a security certificate for my website. What’s changed?
Over the last couple of years, web browsers have moved towards a fully encrypted browsing experience. That means every website will need to be HTTPS rather than HTTP – which you see on sites without an SSL certificate.
If your website doesn’t collect sensitive data, or take online payment details, you won’t have needed an SSL certificate in the past. That changed in October 2019, and now if you don’t have a security certificate on your website, you’ll lose valuable traffic and could even be penalised by search engines.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL stands for secure socket layer. A secure socket layer creates a secure, compliant channel for web visitors and keeps data safe. Gaining this certification for your website provides reassurance to your users that your website is encrypted, secure and trusted by their chosen browser.
How do I get an SSL on my website?
Your SSL certificate can only be provided to your website by a third party known as the Certificate Authority (CA). The role of this third party is to validate and authenticate your website. It must make sure that the identity is legitimate, and that the website is not deceiving anyone. Having this SSL certificate will help to prevent imposters from creating fake websites in your name and will direct traffic to your legitimate site instead of potential ‘fakes.’ With this in mind, the SSL helps to create trust between a user and the website. The user will know that they are using a legitimate site and that the chances of fraud or deception are very unlikely.
By having this process to verify your website and evidencing that it is secure, your web visitors can exchange sensitive information such as credit card details confidently, safe in the knowledge that their information will be protected.
How much does an SSL cost?
SSL certificates vary in their price depending on which provider you go for. There are many out there with a lot of different factors contributing to the price. Prices can range anywhere from £5.67 a year to £156 a year so find a comparison website to compare each provider with what they can deliver and what it is that you want. It is also worth checking with your web hosting company, as many will include an SSL certificate in their hosting packages.
How can I tell if a website I am using has an SSL?
A simple way of checking if the website you are visiting has an SSL certificate is to look at the URL (www.address) bar. The ‘HTTP’ stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is used to transmit information over the Internet. The ‘S’ that can be seen at the ends of some means that the ‘HTTP’ is secure and the website, therefore, has an SSL certificate. Another easy way to know if the website you are using has the SSL certificate is by spotting the padlock in the URL bar. If the padlock is locked the site is secure, again meaning the site has an SSL certification, however if the padlock is open, the site is not secure.
A further check which can be worth running is an SSL Server Test which will provide you with more in-depth information about your website’s SSL status.
Beware! SSL certificates do expire.
When an SSL certificate has expired, the website will show an error code and access will not be allowed until the certification has been renewed. So make sure you’re aware of when yours is set to expire and it’s renewal status e.g. will it auto renew or will you have to manually take steps to ensure your site keeps its padlock?