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What HTTPS Is And Why You Need An SSL Certificate

When it comes to the online security of your business, a HTTPS connection and SSL certificates are critical.

HTTPS refers to a secure connection. SSL certificates are what creates the secure connection. It may sound complicated, but you will find that it’s not actually all that complex by the time you reach the end of this blog post.

Without getting too technical, HTTPS and SSL certificates essentially allow users to browse, buy products/services and share information in a secure manner. Users and customers can rest assured that their usernames, passwords and credit card information is safe with your business.

Remember – no site is too small to be targeted. In fact, the majority of online attacks are done electronically without an actual human deciding who it will target.

As you will see, this secure connection (and SSL certificates, in particular) are imperative for the security of your customers. This builds trust. However, it also results in more conversions and in a better Google ranking as well.

When it comes to website design, SSL certificates are often overlooked over more flashy elements. However, if your blog posts are designed to build trust, SSL certificates communicate this sentiment directly. SSL certificates tell your customers ‘You can trust us.’

This blog post will cover everything you need to know what ‘HTTPS, is’ what an SSL certificate is and why you need one.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. It is the secure version of HTTP. The extra ‘S’ at the end stands for ‘Secure.’

If you are still a bit unclear, allow us to go into a brief history about HTTPS. This will help to provide a little more context and a few more details about what exactly HTTPS is.

It goes like this: in the beginning, network administrators had to figure out a way to share information between websites. This led them to develop a specific procedure for sharing such information, which they called HyperText Transfer Protocol, also known as HTTP.

However, what began to happen was that people figured out they could intercept this exchange of information, making the entire process highly unsafe and even dangerous when it came to transmitting information from one server to another.

Eventually, however, administrators figured out how they could protect any information that was being exchanged. This procedure is referred to as HTTPS or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure.  

How HTTPS Works

You may be wondering, ‘but how does HTTPS work, exactly? How does it make the connection secure?’

The short answer to this question is with an SSL certificate, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer.

Seeing how this is coming together?

Again, a HTTPS connection relies on an SSL certificate in order for the procedure to become secure. The reason for this is because the SSL certificate is responsible for ‘encrypting’ online data, specifically between the visitor’s browser and the server.

Keep in mind that this happens “behind the scenes” so to speak. In other words, the SSL certificate does this not affect user experience in a way, whether browsing or shopping and so on.

In other words, with an HTTPS connection, both parties have agreed upon a code, which essentially translates information into random character-strings so that sensitive information can’t be hacked.

Without an HTTPS connection, it means all communication is in what is essentially ‘plain text.’ This is highly dangerous because it means that a hacker can obtain access to highly sensitive information such as credit card details and so on.

With an HTTPS connection, however, even if a hacker does manage to break into the connection, they are unable to decrypt any data.

However, an important thing to note is that a SSL certificate does not only encrypt data. It also provides authentication. This ensures that you are sending information to the correct server and that someone can’t pose as your website in an effort to get users to type in personal information.

In this way, an SSL certificate also protects against phishing attacks.

Think of it this way: HTTPs and SSL certificates are basically the Internet’s own version of Morse code.

In summary, HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP and it means that all information is encrypted – again, a process completed via the SSL certificate. HTTPS is especially important when doing online banking and making other online purchases as it keeps these transactions safe.

However, there are a number of other reasons why SSL certificates are also important.

Why You Need An SSL Certificate

If you’ve been following along, you are now beginning to see why an SSL certificate is so important.

  • Essential For Security. Even if your website does not handle sensitive information such as credit card details, an SSL certificate is still imperative to protect passwords and usernames.

Membership sites with a lot of logins, for example, create a lot of opportunities for possible attacks that could leave entire pages deleted forever.

The same is true for sites collecting even basic information such as name, address, phone numbers and email addresses. In other words, even this information needs to be protected.

  • Essential For PCI Compliance. If you plan to accept credit card information on your website, you are required to comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. One of the requirements is that you are using an SSL certificate.

Not only is it necessary, but you simply don’t want to be a business that doesn’t put customer security first, right?

Keep in mind that there are some online shopping cart programs that come in with built-in security, but nevertheless, there is still a long list of reasons why an SSL certificate is still important.

  • Increases Conversions. In short, customers are much more likely to make purchases over a secure connection than not. SSL providers will also give you a trust seal, which will also add an additional level of security to your website. 
  • Better Search Engine Ranking. Sites that use https rank higher than those without. Simply put, Google prioritizes sites that prioritize safety.
  • Establishes Trust with your Customers. When you have an SSL certificate on your site, visitors see the padlock in the icon in the URL. They will also see the trust seal.

In this way, you are communicating with visitors and customers that you are keeping their information safe. In turn, this builds trust.

How to Get an SSL Certificate

The next question is, how can you switch from http to https? That is, how you can get an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is essentially a data file that comes from a trusted provider (an SSL provider) who installs an SSL certificate on your site.

More specifically, an SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of your website and other details with an encryption key that is unique to you.

Many hosting providers offer SSL certificates.Regardless of where you purchase your SSL certificate, it’s important to choose a trusted SSL provider that’s recognized.

While this topic is out of the scope of this article, the short answer is that the entire process comes down to installing a certificate on your web server. You can learn how to install an SSL certificate here.

Wrapping It Up

An SSL certificate is critical when it comes to protecting sensitive information of users and customers. Further, an HTTPS connection facilitates more conversions while also boosting your Google rankings at the same time.

When it comes to the security of your website, an SSL certificate is one of the most important elements to consider.

As we mentioned above, no site is too small to be targeted.

Do you have any other thoughts or tips you’d like to share when it comes to the topic of security? We love to hear about them in the comments section below.

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