You have probably seen this popup from time to time and not really sure what it means.
SSL stands for Secured Sockets Layer. An SSL Certificate is issued by a reputable service that proves you are the owner of the domain name is question and also activates the security settings on the user’s browser. What the certificate does is alert your browser that the site it is currently visiting has security enabled. The browser will then react if it detects anything that is not secured. You may have noticed when visiting a site and the browser immediately stops you with a warning that the site is not secured.
In the past you inly needed an SSL certificate if you were handle sensitive data like credit card information for a purchase or if you were entering sensitive information like Social Security Numbers or birth information that hackers could use to steal your identity.
Today however SSL certificates are required for all websites. You can tell if a site is not secured as the little padlock will not show near the URL. So now you may ask yourself why do I need one? I don’t handle any critical information.
The answer to that is varied: First, Google now requests that all websites have a certificate for increased security. Google will lower your search rankings if you do not have an SSL certificate for your website. Second, browsers now could block the display of your site. I had a client that found their site blocked by Microsoft Edge because someone had submitted a report that they were doing shady things on the site. It was unsubstantiated, but the impact was the same. They had to request to be unblocked and that took a week to accomplish but the results were the site could not be reached using Microsoft Edge. Using another browser like Chrome had no effect but SSL certificates make a difference. Third, I have actually seen users leave a site because as soon as they saw the unsecured message, they ran from the site like they had been exposed to the plague!
Basic SSL certificates are free so it does not cost anything to have one and it gives some users peace of mind that all is well with your website.
Advanced SSL certificates do cost and it can be between $200-500 in price annually. These certificates are usually for monetary transactions. The SSL certificate not only secures the site, but it also shows that the site has been vetted by a security company and deemed safe to do business with them.
Your website hosting company can usually help you with the process to get the SSL certificate and it can be as simple as a button click. Find out what their process is for getting secured before you spend a ton of money doing it.
If you have more questions, let us know as we are glad to help!