Close up of padlock and chain on keyboard.

There’s been a lot of talk about SSL certificates recently and many asking “Do I need an SSL Certificate?”, particularly with PayPal’s recent changes so we thought we’d take a moment to explain what they are and how they can benefit you and your users.

So what is an SSL Certificate?

“SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing browsing of social media sites.” – https://www.globalsign.com/en/ssl-information-center/what-is-an-ssl-certificate-2/

In simple terms it encrypts the connection between the web browser on your computer and the web server that the website runs on. So when you’re logging in or entering your precious credit card details, they are encrypted and therefore cannot be read by anyone else in transit (man in the middle attacks).

Do I need an SSL Certificate?

This really depends on what sort of functionality your website has but usually the answer is yes. If you collect any user information, run an eCommerce site (online shop) or have a log in area then you would benefit from having a certificate in place.

Are there any other benefits aside from security?

Yes, Google actually prefers sites that run through HTTPS to the point that it can actually affect your rankings by not having an SSL Certificate installed. It also improves users trust as people have become much more aware of online security and will look out for the padlock and https in the web address. I know that I won’t buy from a website that doesn’t use it and strongly recommend that others don’t either, particularly on a page that collects sensitive data.

How do I get an SSL Certificate?

Almost all hosting services provide SSL Certificates and they’re usually provided on an annual basis for a reasonable price. If we host your website please get in touch and we can run through the options and help you get a certificate installed.

What sort of certificate do I want?

Some hosting providers offer several different SSL Certificates, one of ours offers 4 different ones. Here’s a break down of what those are:

Essential SSL – When you click on the padlock in the browser you will only see the domain in the info. Also a $10,000 warranty, this does not protect you from direct hacks to the site but only if the encryption of the SSL is broken and used to steal encrypted data in transit. Also this SSL is Issued instantly.

Business SSL – The business will also be validated in order to get this SSL. When you click on the padlock you might also see the business name and possibly address/location. Also the certificate might be signed by a better known authority. Also an increased warranty of $100,000. Can take a couple of days to be issued.

Wildcard SSL – This is the same as Business SSL with the added benefit of working on all subdomains so you could have crm.yourdomain.co.uk, cms.yourdomain.co.uk, blog.yourdomain.co.uk and any others you might want.

Extended SSL – This certificate has the addition of the green bar in the browser containing your company name. Also an increased warranty of $250,000.

Not all hosting offers the same options as these but hopefully these will at least help in guiding you choose the appropriate certificate for your needs.

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