What is an SSL

What is an SSL and why your site needs one!

August 22, 2022

If you’re running a small business, you’ve probably heard of SSL certificates. But what are they and why do you need one?
Having an SSL certificate is important for two main reasons:
1. It helps keep your website safe from hackers
2. It builds trust with your visitors
If you’re not sure whether or not your website needs an SSL certificate, we can help you figure it out. Just contact us and we’ll be happy to advise you.

What is an SSL?

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a type of website security that encrypts information exchanged between a website and its visitors. This helps to protect sensitive data, like credit card numbers and login credentials, from being intercepted by malicious third parties. Many web browsers will also display a green padlock icon next to the URL of a site that has an SSL certificate, which can help to build trust with visitors. This certificate can usually last between 90 days and 12 months and then needs to be swapped for a new one.

How do SSLs work?

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that provides security for communication between a website and a user’s web browser. SSLs use encryption to protect information that is exchanged between the two, ensuring that it cannot be accessed by anyone other than the intended recipient.  The SSL certificate needs to be installed on the hosting server, it then activates the padlock icon in the browser and the https:// protocol, which helps to protect data that is being transmitted between the two. When a user visits a website that uses SSL, their browser will check to see if the site’s certificate is valid and trusted. If it is, the browser will then create an encrypted connection with the site. This encrypted connection ensures that all information exchanged between the two is safe from being intercepted and read by anyone else.

To know if a site has a working SSL you will see the lock at the top left of your browser next to the URL.

Here is a non SSL site.

Non SSL Site

This is an SSL secured site. There will be either a green or black lock.

SSL Secured Site

 

What are the benefits of using an SSL?

Using an SSL on a website provides numerous benefits, including increased security, improved search engine ranking, increased webpage load speed and increased customer trust.

Increased Security

SSL provides increased security for a website by encrypting all communication between the website and the user’s browser. This ensures that all information exchanged between the two is secure and private.

Improved Search Engine Ranking

In addition to helping to keep your customers’ information safe, an SSL can also help to improve your website’s search engine ranking. Google, for example, has stated that they give preference to websites that use SSL encryption. An SSL certificate also helps improve your website’s loading speed, another factor that is taken into account by search engines. Having an SSL certificate also allows you to use the HTTPS protocol, which is preferred by Google and other major search engines.

Increased webpage load speed

An SSL certificate can speed up your website in two ways. First, it encrypts all data between your server and visitors’ browsers, which can reduce loading times. Second, it allows you to use the newer HTTP/2 protocol, which is much faster than the older HTTP 1.1 protocol.

Increased Customer Trust

With all of the times we hear about data breaches and stolen personal information we can guarantee our customers hear about those as well.  Having stolen personal information can cause tons of time and money lost, so having a way to show your customers that others can not eavesdrop on that information is very important.  Though an SSL can not protect against every site hack or every data breach it is another layer of protection to help.  If your customer sees that not secure unlocked icon they are going to be much less likely to go to your site, and even more if google decides to show a this site is not secure page and the customer must go through hoops to get to your site it is likely they will come to your site.

Do all websites need SSLs?

Can a site run without an SSL? Yes. Should you have an SSL? Most definitely yes! If you are collecting any kind of sensitive information (including credit card numbers), then an SSL is required in order to protect that data. If you have an e-commerce site selling a product your checkout or payment processor may not even work without an SSL. In that case it will definitely be required.  The technical jargon and what the SSL does may be complicated, but it is usually not too complicated to actually get an SSL so don’t be too scared of getting it setup.

How can I get an SSL for my website?

Getting an SSL may not be very difficult and you may already have access to one with your host or you may even have one installed though it may not be working correctly. There are companies like Let’s Encrypt that have free SSL certificates and many hosts will offer them for free.  The only large host I know of right now that does not give free SSL’s is Godaddy (though there are probably others) and this is one of the many reasons I will not use Godaddy for hosting.  Though above we said they only last for 90 days to 1 year most hosts also have what is called Autossl and it will automatically update to a new SSL when one is expiring so there is rarely anything you will need to do to keep the SSL going. Our hosting includes free SSLs and we can set that up for you. Ask your host if they can set it up and get it running for you.  If you are on Godaddy then you have to pay yearly for one or use a this annoying work around.

My site has an SSL installed but it doesn’t show the lock

This can happen sometimes and there are a few ways to fix this. The main reason for this is things in your site is from content that have the http:// link instead of https:// link. If the site was built and even one image in the page was linked to by http:// you will get this issue.  You can check it with this very handy online tool, Why No Padlock, it can many times tell you what the problem is.  Sometimes you will just have to go into the code and change the http to https or possibly re-add the image. If you have a wordpress site you can possibly use Better Search Replace to replace http with https or my personal favorite is to use Really Simple SSL this works to force everything to be https and almost always fixes those errors as long as the site has an SSL installed on the hosting.

We can see that SSL is a very important part of website security.Your site needs an SSL to protect your visitors’ information and to ensure that your site is trustworthy. If you are having problems with your SSL or if you think your site may need one, contact us at JnM Web Creations and we will be happy to help you out.

About Josh Collier

Josh, with his degree in Business Finance from Northern Arizona University, is a hands-on learner, who has always preferred to learn by doing. One day, sometime around 2015, he started a blog on prepping, and had a great ol’ time creating the site. When all was said and done, he realized he enjoyed CREATING the site much more than he enjoyed WRITING the content. So he continued to pick up books on HTML and Javascript and CSS, and started taking some free online classes on how to build websites. In 2017, his sister, Shyla, offered him a subcontracting job to build websites for her social media marketing company, Premiere Social Media, and he was hooked. He was finally able to build websites for real people, and he quickly realized he found his passion.

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