What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is also known as TLS, which is short for Transport Layer Security.
SSL protects the data flowing between your computer and the remote Internet server. This ensures that hackers cannot intercept your data, to see what you are doing.
Who uses SSL Certificates ?
SSL / TLS Certificates are used many businesses, including banks for their secure internet banking services, and online shopping websites.
You can identify a website using SSL / TLS Security by looking at the address bar of your internet browser, such as Safari or Chrome.
If the site is secure then you will see a closed padlock on the left hand side of the website address bar, before the www bit.
Another thing to look out for is that the address of the website, just before the www bit, should have the letters ‘https’.
Https stands for ‘Hyper Text Transport Protocol Secure’.
Https signifies that website you are browsing is using a secure connection.
If the website is not using an SSL Certificate, then you will see the letters http, in other words, with no letter ‘s’ on the end of it.
Finally some SSL Certificates (the more expensive ones) turn the website address bar green. The promoted advantage of these green address browsers, is that it increases trust amongst website users.
You can normally see these on banking websites, though they can be used with any website.
The evidence that it increases website user reassurance more than normal SSL certificates is not conclusive, based on the research that we have so far seen. They do look nice though !
Things to watch out for.
If the SSL / TLS Certificate, or website pages have not been configured correctly, you may see a broken lock. this means its not working correctly.
We have found that this is sometimes caused by incorrect coding in websites, and is especially an issue for ‘bought in’ templates. We have found that the code specifies http hyperlinks for instance, rather than https.
To correct this you (or the site owner) can either correct the code from http to https, or in the case of CMS (Content Management Systems), such as WordPress, you can install a third party plugin, that will automatically fix the issues.
Installing plugins does however have a speed penalty on the website, if too many are installed.
SSL Certificates can be bought from a number of online sellers and resellers. The SSL certificate that we installed on https://yesway.co.uk was from Comodo . You can buy direct from them, or we found that it was actually cheaper to ‘shop around’ and buy from a large reseller, such as Namecheap.
Once you have purchased it, and verified yourself via an email link, installation is simply a matter of following the instructions. Be aware however that you might need access to your websites server, depending on your installation method.
We can of course install and correctly configure your websites SSL certificate, so that your website is secure.
Do I need an SSL Certficate then?
If you handle sensitive information such as customer details, or financial details, then yes.
Not having one on a web shop will deter potential customers from making a purchase, as most consumers these days are aware of the little padlock icon, showing that the site is secure.
Even if you do not handle sensitive data, it is encouraged by Google, and may have a slight boost impact on your search engine rankings, making your website easier to find.
The cost of an SSL Certificate can be as little as free of charge, if your web host has enabled https://letsencrypt.org/
If not, then you will need to purchase an SSL Certificate, which range from £7 upwards to around £200 (for the fancy ones with multi sites, and green address bar).
You will also need a separate IP (Internet protocol) address from your web host supplier. These consist of a series of number, such as this one: 18.104.22.168 , and distinctly identify your website, as opposed to sharing an IP address, which you would normally be doing on shared hosting plans.