What is an SSL and Why is it Important?
Written by: Conrad Davenport
June 21, 2018
We live in a changing world and the web industry is exceptionally prone to these changes. Development languages are constantly evolving and growing, browsers are changing, and it seems as though industry giants like Facebook and Google are updating their systems on a near daily basis. With all of the good that comes from technology changing, there are also plenty of harmful changes.
Since the Internet began, hackers have attempted to gain access to parts of web servers they weren’t supposed to. In recent years, there has been a real increase in the number of attempts to capture information in transit before it ever reaches the server in the first place.
In order to understand the solution though, we have to explain the problem.
What is a server?
When you enter a domain into your browser to visit a website, a lot happens in the fraction of a second it takes for something to display on your screen. A website is built using a set of files; some sites as simple as a single file, others containing thousands of different files and components.
These files have to be digitally stored somewhere other devices can access them as they are requested. For 99% of companies out there, this is on some sort of sophisticated server built for the purpose of holding your website. When you type a domain and press enter, your request is routed through up to a dozen (or more) different stops that route your request for a domain to the physical server where it’s digital contents are stored.
That’s a lot of steps. Now what if I told you that each of those steps could be a vulnerability?
The Vulnerable Data
In this article we’ll just stick to the most common vulnerabilities. When you enter your credit card or social security number on a website, every stop along the route your data takes between you and the server, has the possibility of being viewed in transit.
Say you’re at a coffee shop and working on their WiFi, there are easy to build systems that could allow someone else connected to that same network to view every site you visit. They could see every email you send, and every photo you post of Fluffy on your Instagram.
“Well, I only use my cell phone for sending private data,” you may say, but the cellular systems have the possibility of having information viewed in transit as well. And all of this is only talking about nefarious sources, what about your Internet Service Provider? Do you really think that Comcast doesn’t have the ability to view and analyze the data being used over their network?
Luckily, there’s a simple way you can protect visitors to your site and yourself. The solution is an SSL. An SSL is a certificate that’s installed onto your hosting server that browsers can interface with so the data being sent from you or your customer’s device is encrypted in transit. Meaning, when your data is in transit, if it was viewed, the source and destination could be seen, but its content could not.
A good example of this would be a tunnel. You can see where something enters and where something exits, but what is being transported trough the tunnel remains hidden. This ensures that your private information stays private.
Google Loves SSL
There’s more to this SSL story though from a business website perspective. Not only are you protecting your customer’s information, but you’re also building trust. When a customer visits a website, they want to know they can trust you with their information because if they can’t, how could they possibly trust your product or service.
According to a study by Symantec, an SSL certificate can increase your leads from 18-87% and in some cases, even more!
Building trust is only a part of these benefits because it’s not only loved by your customer… but Google loves it too! Google not only ranks sites with SSLs higher, but they’re so passionate about security that they are adjusting their own browser, Chrome, to display messages stating a site is not secure if it doesn’t have an SSL installed on it.
If your potential customer was unaware your site didn’t have an SSL installed on it before, just wait until they’re alerted every time they visit it that it’s an insecure connection.
So you may be saying, this is all going over my head. You realize you need an SSL, but you don’t have any idea where to begin. Well first, installing an SSL is no small feat so if you’re going to purchase an SSL, purchase it from the same place your SITE (not your domain) is hosted. This will make the process much more direct and most hosting companies will do this for you.
Advantage Internet Marketing can assist you as needed throughout this process. And if you’d prefer we can actually manage your hosting account for you. If your site is built with WordPress, even better. We have a system built from the ground up for security and speed specifically for the WordPress content management system and we include an SSL as part of this hosting solution.
If you’re unsure whether customers are leaving your site because of security or another reason, give us a call at 410-848-4737, today. We’d love to sit down and discuss the ways that Advantage Internet Marketing can help you get new leads from the web.