Nowadays, security is a great deal to everyone who is doing business on the web. However, you can keep your customers and your business safe from any security breach with an SSL certificate.
What is SSL Certificate?
Have you ever observed that when you open a website, a typical web address or web URL starts with HTTP; while there are some web addresses that start with HTTPS. An HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is a protocol that defines a way to communicate from browser to the web server.
Over the time, things have become pretty complicated, websites have evolved and so does the hacking community. A lot of information is being passed by a browser to the web servers and hence, we need something more secure. Why? Because, when your data is travelling in HTTP protocol, it just travels in the clear text format and a lot of research work has concluded that Wireshark and other interception tools are getting advanced. We are passing our credit card information, login information and a whole bunch of sensitive data that needs to be encrypted and secured. Here comes the story of HTTPS. HTTPS protocol works on either of the two things: the SSL which is secure socket layer; or TLS the transport layer security but both of these things actually use a PKI which is public key infrastructure.
The additional “S” at the end of HTTP reflects that the site is secured by SSL certificate. SSL or Secure Socket Layer is a technological tool to secure confidential information such as credit card numbers & pin code, social security/tax IDs and passwords, bank account numbers & access details etc. out of the hands of malicious hackers and cyber criminals.
How does SSL work?
An SSL certificate works by scrambling or encrypting the sensitive data, while it passes through the web servers and keeps it unharmed from interception till it reaches the desired recipient. On reaching the legal recipient, the data gets unencrypted.
Some people think that they don’t require SSL certificate for their websites because they are not selling their products online. On the contrary, SSL certificate is a much-needed thing for every website owner as it ensures your visitors about the legitimacy and credibility of the website. It is a great way of earning their trust by showing that you are concerned about the security of their information and you have taken care of it.
Types of SSL Certificates:
You might have seen two different kinds of SSL certificates:
- The regular ones, and
- The extended ones.
When you visit a banking website, you might have seen that the whole green bar turns with the name of that website, that is due to the extended SSL certificate; while the regular one just simply uses a lock. For most of the websites, you don’t need an extended certificate but something like a banking system obviously needs a bit more security and a bit more extended version of SSL certificate.
How to get SSL Certificate
In order to have an SSL certificate, you need to have a dedicated IP. Since dedicated IPs are somewhat expensive, make sure you first put out a budget of having an SSL certificate.
Not all of the hosting services are capable of installing SSL certificate. So, wherever you decide to take your hosting or register your domain name, first make sure that you share with your hosting provider or domain registrar about your plan of installing an SSL certificate for your website. There are many plans where you can have a hosting and park unlimited domains which are capable of hosting an SSL certificate. Hence, first and foremost thing to do is to checkout with your hosting provider about whether you can install an SSL checker with your existing hosting plan.
Due to the high cost involved in having a dedicated IP, many vendors leave the option of securing their website altogether. There is another simpler solution to that.
There are a lot of payment services that can provide you an API to integrate into your website. Now, what you can do is – you can have your website on a non-secure channel, which is just an HTTP, and whenever there is a payment that you have to take, just redirect the user totally on that payment gateways service. Obviously, that payment gateway service is kind of a mandatory to have an HTTPS and you can do all the payments and transfers there. Once everything is done, they generate you a token, which you can use by API and can find out whether that payment was done successfully.
You can use this alternative route to handle the situation where the number of transaction is low and you want to keep your budget little bit under the comfortable zone. But, eventually if a lot of transactions are going on your website that means your business is getting in the profit and it is a good idea to have an SSL certificate.
From where can you get SSL certificate?
There are a lot of websites or certification authorities, which can offer you an SSL certificate. Some of these are GeoTrust, Comodo, GoDaddy, and Symantec. Some of the authorities also provide free of cost certificates for WordPress websites. You can also buy your certificate from GeoTrust for just $46.
How to use your certificate?
Once you have the certificate, you need to activate it within your browser. Each SSL certificate requires a CSR containing information to uniquely identify and secure your website. Activation is easier if you do it inside your web hosting control panel e.g. cPanel or WHM.
After activation, install the certificate on your web-server and enjoy the benefits of safe and secured website transactions.
SSL certificate is a much-needed thing for every website owner as it ensures your visitors about the legitimacy and credibility of the website. Having an SSL certificate assures visitor that you have taken out the time and effort to secure their sensitive data and information on your website or web application.