Do you have an SSL certificate? I don’t… yet. But it looks like SSL – Google’s security protocol – is set to have a significant effect on online businesses. What’s it all about? Here’s what you need to know.
SSL certificates mean secure browsing
An SSL certificate is simply a small data file that digitally connects a cryptographic key to a business’ details, namely your domain name, server, company name and location. The tech has been around for a long time. But the word on the streets is Google would ultimately like all websites to run over a secure https connection, a technology that works very like your online bank to deliver super-safe browsing to users.
What does it actually mean to you? It means you need a valid SSL certificate, which tells Google you have done the decent thing and encrypted the connection to your website. Once you’ve set up a secure connection all the online traffic between your web server and the browser will be secure. If you’ve already bitten the bullet you’ll notice Google displays a little locked padlock in your browser window.
So far so good. But it’s worrying because Google has announced it’ll be promoting websites running on a https connection over those that don’t, which means not getting your act together will eventually see your website relegated in the search results. Ultimately their algorithm will label your website ‘unsafe’, which as you can imagine will probably be the death of you!
All this means there’s no getting away with it. You will eventually need a valid SSL certificate on your website. On the bright side every major browser supports the tech, and your site visitors will notice the difference since http2 is an awful lot faster than http1. It’ll also prove to them that their data is safe when they use your website, increasingly important when identity fraud is so rampant and highly unlikely to go away. And we’re already fast approaching the stage where savvy consumers won’t share their information with a site or buy from it unless they can see the closed padlock sign proving it’s protected by SSL.
If you try to do it yourself, you’ll find it’s a horribly fiddly job involving checking every web page’s code to ensure they all comply. Luckily your host will do it for you, and will probably give you a number of SSL certificate options to choose from. It will cost you extra and the charge is usually ongoing, paid annually. GoDaddy, for example, charge £29.99 a year for a basic SSL certificate – ideal for simple sites like mine – and £249.99 a year for all-singing, all-dancing protection suitable for big ecommerce enterprises.
If you want to win a potentially significant competitive advantage over businesses like yours that haven’t taken SSL certification on board yet, get certified now.