While opening a wide range of new opportunities, the Internet has brought along a number of dangers as well. The possibility to shop online for food, books, clothes, gifts and many other items has certainly made our lives easier. On the other hand, this convenient way of procuring the things we need exposes us and our finances to a number of risks, including credit card details theft. This is when the SSL technology comes into the scene, offering our data and finances the protection they need.
What is SSL?
Short for Secure Sockets Layer, SSL is a commonly used security technology that establishes an encrypted connection between web servers and their clients. This encryption’s goal is to ensure that all the data transmitted between the two remain private, and cannot be altered by any exterior force.
Developed by Netscape (the company who was also responsible for the most popular internet browser before Internet Explorer), SSL is nowadays a standard within the internet security field. Countless of websites use this technology in order to make sure the financial and personal data entered during online transactions performed on their websites remain intrinsic.
How to tell if a site is using SSL?
While the details that the SSL protocol is using to encrypt the data and make sure the connection is secure are not displayed internet user accessing such a web page, the popular web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer) inform visitors that the respective session is SSL encrypted by displaying a lock or a similar symbol in the address bar. Any time you want to check the SSL certificate’s details, you can that by clicking on the respective symbol.
Another way of knowing whether you are using an SSL encrypted page or not is to check whether the URL for the page is http:// or https://, the latter being the secure one.
How does SSL work?
When clicking on the lock and seeing the SSL Certificate of a website, you will get a series of details like the domain name, the name of the company operating the site, and its address. While all this might seem important, the essential details here are the certificate’s expiration date and the items of information regarding the company that has issued the SSL, also known as Certificate Authority.
When trying to establish a secure connection between the website’s servers and the visitor’s computer, the internet browser first checks if the website has a valid certificate and whether this one was issued by a trusted authority. Whenever there is a problem, the visitor will see a warning telling him that the connection is not secure and recommending not to proceed.
Why is SSL important?
The importance of SSL becomes rather obvious: this security technology helps webmasters make sure the data internet users fill into their forms does not get into the wrong hands. When it comes to e-commerce websites, having an SSL protocol in place on your online store’s pages is vital. Not only will you expose yourself and your customers’ to great risk, but you might also lose some customers on the way. Internet shoppers are more and more educated about the dangers of online shopping and the ways to avoid them. Most of them will simply not shop on an e-commerce website that does not offer a secure connection.
Implementing an SSL connection into your website is crucial both from a technical point of view, but also as far as sales and marketing aspects are concerned. It is a way to make sure your financial data and your customers’ remain private, but also a method to show your visitors you are a trustworthy brand.