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If you are a website owner, protecting the information that customers send through your website should be a key concern. Failure to implement the right safeguards may result in the loss or theft of personal data and if this happens, it can prove costly for your business. 

While the internet is a great place to find new customers, it is also somewhere filled with threats. These threats can present significant problems for your business if they go undetected. Fortunately, with advances in technology, there are some safeguards that you can implement to not only reduce the risk of your website being a target but to protect customer and business data too. The more customer information you gather and process the higher the risk and the stricter your security strategy should be. Regardless of what type of website you have, whether it’s purely for information purposes or it is larger and more complex featuring payment gateways or membership areas, security should be one of your main priorities. 

There are many security safeguards that you can put in place to protect your business, but one of the most important is the use of an SSL certificate. SSL or Secure Socket Layers encrypts data as it is sent and received from the server, preventing third parties from intercepting sensitive information such as card details and personal information of your customers. 

When you use SSL technology, it serves as a kind of digital passport which acts as a protector, reviewing the credentials of both web visitors and the server. Once both identities are verified, the SSL will authorise a secure connection using HTTPS protocol. This process is achieved through the use of an SSL certificate. There are several components to a certificate including: 

Your name 

The serial number of the certificate 

Expiry date of the certificate 

Public key which is used to encrypt information 

A private key which is used to decrypt the information so it can be understood 

SSL works on two levels; the first is to encrypt the data and the second is to provide authentication. 

Encryption will ensure that any information sent between the website and users cannot be read by other people. 

Authentication is used to provide greater credibility for your business in that visitors who use your site trust that you are who you say you are. While encryption helps to protect data, authentication helps to prove your identity to web users. 

Now that you have a good understanding of what SSL is, let’s take a little look at why they are important and how they can protect your website, whether you run a small blog or you have a large, eCommerce website. 

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#1 Stops Hackers 

HTTP enables information to be sent and received between devices and websites, but HTTPS takes this a step further and creates an added layer of protection, ensuring that the information sent cannot be intercepted. HTTPS is essential if you are sending information such as passwords, personal details or credit card information but it also protects web users from attacks known as Man in the Middle. This occurs when a third party intercepts transmissions between the two clients. Without encryption, criminals can replicate web pages and display a fake one and this could include malicious links which infect computers with malware if they are clicked. 

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#2 Increased Trust 

Web visitors are more likely to trust a secure site. When you install an SSL certificate on your website you are notifying web visitors and customers that you take security and privacy seriously. With this, you will increase trust and confidence in your business. 

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#3 Improved Search Engine Rankings 

Google will prefer websites that are secure so if you are trying to rank in the first pages for a selection of keywords, ensuring that your pages are secure will increase the chances of your pages being ranked on the first page. 

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#4 Site Speed 

While HTTPS is just one of the factors that Google will take into consideration when ranking websites, so too is site speed. If your website loads quickly this will also be a positive signal in the eyes of Google. When your website runs quickly more people will visit and the lower your bounce rate will be if they can navigate through each of the pages and access the information they want with ease. Making the move from HTTP to HTTPS on your website will improve the performance of the site and also the usability too. 

Different Types of SSL Certificate 

There are three main types of certificates that you can obtain for your website: 

Blogs and personal websites – A standard Domain Validation (DV) certificate 

Businesses and non-profits – An Organisation Validation (OV) certificate 

Ecommerce – An Extended Validation (EV) certificate 

A DV certificate is one of the most cost-effective and easiest certificates to obtain and maintain making them a great option for small websites and personal blogs. An OV SSL certificate is essential for businesses because it offers an enhanced level of security. The EV certificate offers an even higher level of security making it ideal for anyone who runs an online store. 

The first step to securing your website is to acquire the necessary certificate and this should be installed on your hosting server. Once the verification process is complete, the website code will then need to be updated to the new HTTPS protocol. All of your web pages that are on your website, will then be upgraded to HTTPS. You will also need to update the settings in any Content Management System such as WordPress and then carefully review each of the plugins that operate on your site to make sure that they are compatible and updated to make sure that they function properly with the new protocol. The final stage is to then update your Google Analytics information to ensure that website visitors are being properly monitored. All of this can be handled by your website developer as they will have the skills and expertise to make sure that the certificate is installed and configured in the right way. 

Maintaining the integrity of your customer data should be a key priority for any business owner and with an SSL certificate, you will develop an increased level of trust with customers old and new. When a website visitor trusts your website, they are more likely to buy which increases sales and builds your reputation as a trustworthy business. With an increasing amount of website hacks, malware and other threats circulating online, it has never been more important to protect your customers and website visitors and make sure that the information they send through your website is completely secure.