The Importance of SSL Certificates for Websites
Dec 12, 2019, WebGazer Team
SSL is considered as the foundation for keeping the Internet secure. It is also one of the methods commonly used to protect sensitive data as it is transmitted throughout the world. In addition, SSL is crucial if you want to keep your website safe regardless if it doesn’t utilize sensitive data like credit card information, location, and address. The standard can provide privacy, security, and data protection for your clients’ personal information and your website.
So, SSL is an essential standard that you should utilize to maintain the integrity of both your website and brand. To convince you that it is useful, we have gathered some reasons for and against the use of SSL certificates on websites. Let's begin!
In this blog, we will discuss the following:
- It Encrypts Sensitive Information
- It Provides Authentication
- It Establishes Trust
- It is Needed for PCI Compliance
- What Are the Disadvantages of SSL?
The main reason for the creation of SSL is to protect sensitive data that is transmitted across the Internet. It does this by encrypting the information so that only the recipient will gain access to the information. Encrypting your data is essential because when it is transmitted, it is transferred from one computer to another before it reaches the destination server.
So, without SSL, each of the computers where your information passed through can gain access to your sensitive personal information. These confidential data include credit card information, the username and password of your account, and other sensitive information that may be used by malicious individuals for illegal activities.
On the other hand, when a website uses SSL certificates, the information is unreadable for everybody else except for the server where you sent the information. By using this method, your chances of having your data revealed to the wrong people significantly decreases.
Aside from encrypting your data to protect it, SSL certificates also perform authentication. So, SSL certificates are used to verify that the right server receives the data that you sent instead of other people who may have malicious intent.
So, why is authentication necessary? The Internet is designed to transmit data through a vast network of thousands of computers. So, your clients before you receive it, your data will inevitably pass through several computers. So, it is safe to assume that some of them may try to fool your customers by copying your website and collecting their information.
The only way to avoid having this problem is to obtain an SSL certificate through reputable SSL providers. By doing so, you will not only keep your customers safe but your reputation as well.
So, how do SSL providers solve this problem? SSL providers will only give a certificate when they pass through a verification process that involves several tests, such as identity checks. However, some SSL certificates require a more stringent validation compared to others, such as EV SSL certificates.
How do you know which SSL provider is better? You can verify their claims by looking through the recommendations that web browser makers make as these have been created by using third-party standards like WebTrust.
Usually, web browsers show signs to show users that their current connection is secure. They typically do this by displaying an icon of a lock or a green bar to make it very obvious. When users see these icons, they will likely buy from you or think that your website is more trustworthy. Aside from these visual cues, SSL provides will also provide a seal of trust to your websites, which can increase their confidence in you.
You should also use HTTPS to protect your site against phishing attacks. These attacks are made through email by malicious individuals who plan to scam your customers by impersonating your website. The emails that the customer receives usually includes a link that redirects them to another site that the scammers control. Aside from that, they can also make use of a man-in-the-middle attack and utilize the domain name of your website.
By obtaining an SSL certificate, you will be making it harder for them to correctly copy your website as it is almost impossible for them to gain a certificate. So, your customers will be less likely to be victims of phishing attacks because they will see that the fake website lacks the trusty green icon.
Another benefit of having an SSL certificate is you can use start adding online transactions to your website. Only websites that successfully pass through the strict audits according to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards are the only ones who get access. If you fail the review, you won't have the ability to accept the credit card information of your website's users. Also, one of the most critical requirements to pass the audit is the proper use of an SSL certificate.
Although SSL certificates do have its benefits, there are still some lingering reasons that make it a bane for website administrators. One distinct disadvantage is its cost. You will spend a significant amount of money because SSL providers have to install a trusted infrastructure and verify your identity. However, the price has dramatically gone down because of stiff competition between established SSL providers and new entrants.
Also, the performance takes a hit when using SSL certificates. As it utilizes encryption to protect user data, it also makes use of your server’s resources compared to when the information is not protected by encryption. However, this difference in performance is only applicable to sites with a considerable number of clients. In this case, they use specialized hardware to make up for performance issues.
As there are a lot more benefits to using SSL certificates on your website compared to the downsides, it's not even a question if you should use it. The proper use of SSL certificates is essential, and it should be applied to all of your websites as it will help protect you, your customers, and your reputation.