This Insights article was contributed by Marc Mereyde of TiktoPlus
It’s official - Google announced in September it will label websites containing passwords or credit card forms as “not secure” if they do not have an SSL certificate when visitors access them through Chrome, currently the most popular browser.
Ultimately, the famous search engine and advertising giant also made it clear that all non-secure websites will be labeled “not secure” in red letters next to the URL when visitors use Chrome to access websites that do not use SSL certificates.
Historically, most of us were told that only e-commerce websites really needed SSL. Well, this is simply not the case anymore.
But what is SSL exactly?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. Its aim is to ensure that no one can see traffic between a website viewer and the server that hosts the website someone visits. It may surprise you, but it is way too easy for any ill-intentioned person to see traffic between someone accessing a website through his or her browser and the server.
I hear a lot of people getting a bit upset at this announcement and saying, “Why would I need an SSL certificate if I don’t take payments online through my site?” If you are a WordPress user for example, you must type your login and password to access your website’s dashboard. If your site does not have an SSL certificate, someone on the internet could potentially see what you type.
Can you imagine the kind of damage they could do? In other words, your connection is definitely not 100 percent secure. SSL encrypts the connection between your tablet, phone or computer and the server that hosts the website.
So, SSL is good news. However, not all SSL certificates are created equal. There are currently three main kinds of SSL certificates. Domain-validated certificates only verify a domain, not the domain’s ownership. If your domain is mywebsite.com, for example, they just verify that your domain is actually mywebsite.com.
Organization-validated certificates, on the other hand, also verify the owner of the domain. The idea is that illegitimate organizations, such as dangerous hackers, will have a harder time getting this kind of SSL. Nothing is 100 percent efficient, but organization-validated certificates do a pretty good job of keeping the bad guys from getting an SSL and appearing legitimate.
Ultimately, there is also another category of certificate, called extended-validated certificates, that is part of a more thorough verification and vetting process of the entity that owns the domain.
SSL certificate benefits also include improved SEO. Web design and digital marketing agencies, such as TiktoPlus, have long known about the benefits of SSL certificates for search engine optimization. It is one of hundreds of variables used for your site’s ranking position.
In addition, nobody wants their potential customers to see the words “not secure” in red when they access their website. The psychological impact is likely to make your customers think that your website has been compromised… or worse.
After you decide which certificate is right for you, you will have to install the certificate on your server. You may also need to set up some sort of permanent server redirect from your old http URL to your new https URL. And you may also need to change your WordPress settings, as well as your cache setting if you use one.
TiktoPlus is Wilmington-based, but we can provide guidance and solutions no matter where you are in the United States. We can help you decide which certificate is best for you. We can also take care of all the technical details, such as installation, for you so you can focus on your business.
Call us now, (910) 408-2272, for a free website evaluation.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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