What Is an SSL Certificate? Why Does my Website Need an SSL?

What Is an SSL Certificate? Why Does my Website Need an SSL?

How important is an SSL Certificate Really?! Are people really that sensitive about their data?


According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, nearly 80% of Americans have concerns about how and why companies collect their personal data.


Meanwhile, the convenience of digital devices means that we’re all spending more time online than ever before. Between December 2016 and June 2020, the number of unique users on the internet increased by about 1.2 billion. That means that roughly 16% of the entire population of the world joined the digital world in less than 4 years.


Online spending has increased at an even more rapid pace. In the United States alone, online consumer spending jumped from an already-staggering $524 billion in 2018 to $602 billion in 2019.


This paints a complicated picture for online privacy: While users grow more and more concerned about how their data is being collected and used, businesses shift more and more of their focus to online sales and digital platforms.


Even if your business does not involve online sales, users have learned to be wary of seemingly insecure websites — regardless of the nature of the site itself.


How can you ensure that your visitors trust your website to keep their personal data safe?


This is why an SSL certificate is so important for your website. An SSL certificate adds a layer of security by encrypting any and all data transmitted by your website’s visitors. In the past, only online merchants or other organizations that collected highly sensitive data — such as payment information or Social Security numbers — were required to install an SSL certificate on their website.


However, in recent years, users have begun to take greater care to protect even basic personal data while online. Advanced digital advertising features, such as highly personalized ads that seem to “read the minds” of potential customers, are great options for businesses. However, they have the “side effect” of reminding users that they’re sharing personal data with companies online.


Of course, the presence of an SSL certificate on a website does not in any way imply that visitor data is not being collected. What it does indicate to a visitor is that their data is protected from being accessed by unauthorized third parties.


You might wonder exactly how this works. Basically, when an SSL certificate is installed on your domain, a “secret code” is created that is only shared by your website and the server hosting it. When a visitor opens any page on your website or submits any data, a request is sent from the website to the server for access. The server responds with, basically, a coded message. The website uses the SSL certificate to “decode” the message and sends back a coded message in return. This coded message proves the identity of the website to the server, which then loads the secured content for the website.


How does this keep data secure? Well, the “coded” messages sent back and forth between the website and server are unique to each visitor. Therefore, if a third party attempts to masquerade as one of your website visitors, the server will detect that their coded message does not match, and reject their request. Or, the third party will receive a coded message themselves but have no way to decode it.


To think about it another way, an SSL certificate on your website means that each visitor has exactly one key that opens exactly one lock. If you try to open any of these locks with the wrong key, you won’t get very far.

All in all, SSL certificates have become the “bare minimum” in terms of online website security. Without an SSL certificate, your website may lose the trust of your visitors, decline in search result rankings, and experience slow load times. We’ve been installing SSL certificates for our customers for many years and highly recommend you have one installed on your website.  For more information on the steps involved, please contact our team.


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