There’s a good chance you’ve probably seen the words “not secure” pop up on a browser before. And if you’re like many people, you exited immediately or soon thereafter. It doesn’t matter whether or not you really understand what these words mean — just seeing them is enough to make you start doubting the website’s safety.
But what exactly makes a website “not secure”, especially when it looks otherwise normal? And more importantly, how can you prevent these fatal words from appearing on your own site?
The short answer is “an SSL certificate.” Websites that do not have them are at risk of being recognized as insecure by certain browsers and can lose a lot of traffic as a result. The fact is that Google will automatically flag your website as not secure and potentially unsafe if it does not have an SSL certificate. Needless to say, if you take your online business or blog at all seriously, it’s crucial that you take the proper measures to prevent this.
Keep reading to learn more about SSL certificates and how you can get one.
Understanding Encryption Security
To really understand why your website needs an SSL certificate (and what having one means), it’s important to first go over why this certificate exists in the first place. The truth is that the hype around SSL certificates is nothing new.
It was back in 2017 that Google announced their search engine and Google Chrome browser would start flagging all HTTP websites that had unencrypted connections. When the internet giant followed through with their roll-out of Chrome 68 in July 2018, about two-thirds of the internet ended up getting the red tape of a “not secure” notification. These messages deliver a warning to users that proceeding with the website may not be safe (insecure data protection, viruses, etc.)
Now, some people who started their own websites before 2017 may try to tell you that today’s concern about website encryption is not that serious. That’s because before 2017, the Google Chrome browser called out unencrypted HTTP websites, but in a much more subtle way that still made them easy to use. In the past, websites with HTTPS-enabled encrypted connections had a green lock icon with “Secure” found in the URL bar. Those without these connections meanwhile had their own small “Not Secure” icon in the URL bar. When users clicked on it, it would read “Your connection to this site is not secure. You should not enter any sensitive information on this site (for example, passwords or credit cards), because it could be stolen by attackers.”
It’s also worth noting that other browsers like Firefox still display the green lock in the URL line for a securely encrypted website. Users can still visit insecure websites, but a warning will pop up that gives them a fast exit option.
Today’s encryption security overall is much more noticeable, and it helps to effectively prevent internet users from putting their data and computer at risk. On the flip side, however, stricter security measures from Google also mean that innocent websites will get mistakenly tagged as dangerous if their encryption is not up to standard. Likewise, it also means that internet hackers and virus / bug senders may be more likely to target smaller business websites that may not have invested in security steps.
Okay, So What Exactly is an SSL Certificate?
We were just talking about website encryption, so by now you might be wondering how exactly SSL certificates prevent your website from getting the Google flag of death. Standing for “Secure Sockets Layer”, SSL focuses on the communication from website owners to their users on things like sharing information and buying products and services. Having an SSL certificate means that your website is equipped to establish a safe connection with the user. Their data and devices will not be a risk simply by using your website.
Think of an SSL certificate as an online passport. It monitors each “major” data exchange between the user and the website. The certificate connects your website information safely to the user through a cryptographic key.
For security reasons, your SSL certificate will contain the following website company information:
- Name of the certificate holder
- Copy of the certificate holder’s public key
- Serial number and expiration date
- Digital Signature of the certificate-issuing authority
Now, because websites serve a wide range of purposes and offer different services, not all types of encryption security measures are going to be the same. In fact, there are multiple types of SSL Certificates you should know about:
- Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificate – For personal websites, offers almost instant auto-validation security.
- Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificate – For business and company websites, protects extensive, multi-level information and offers registration validation in days.
- Extended Validation (EV) Certificate – For eCommerce websites, protects financial and personal data.
Website Encryption is Crucial for Online Businesses
All websites should have an SSL certificate in order to establish a secure connection with each user. After all, every type of online businesses are targeted by hackers and spammers. Having an SSL certificate will establish trust with the user and help build up your online reputation as a whole. Nevertheless, you will especially want secure encryption if you collect any data or make any kind of financial transaction on your website. Sensitive user data can be stolen all too easily between their device and the server, but not when it passes through a site with an SSL certificate.
As if that’s not reason enough, here are some other vital reasons to get an SSL certificate and offer safe encryption to your users:
- Protect Customer Payment Information – Without being encrypted, your customer’s information is exposed.
- Protect Passwords and Login Information – Both you and your users will feel more at ease
- Some Web Hosting Companies Require SSL Certificates – Major web hosting companies, like GoDaddy, are starting to mandate SSL Certificates as a term of use.
- Open Up Business Opportunities – Other companies and individuals are just far more interested in doing business with a company that has secure web encryption. After all, just about all aspects of business are done online these days.
- Help Build the Safety of the Internet as a Whole – The more websites that have SSL certificates, the safer the entire internet will be for everyone.
How to Get an SSL Certificate
One of the most important things to take away from here is that only websites with this certificate will be labeled Secure by internet browsers. Not having an SSL certificate will not only put both your website and your visitors at security risk, but you will also lose a substantial amount of potential users.
To make sure the right SSL certificate is installed (and done correctly), it’s wise to enlist the help of a professional. Don’t wait, or risk losing important data and business in the process.