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How often do you read about cyber attacks in the news? How about identity theft? Reporters discuss these topics almost daily. If you’ve tuned into these discussions, you might have heard about SSL certificates. Other than relating to website security, do you know what an SSL certificate is? Do you know how it helps protect your sensitive information? If you’re a business owner, do you know how it can affect your business?

In this article, we’ll discuss what an SSL certificate is, what it does, what SSL stands for, how it relates to HTTPS, and why your business needs an SSL certificate.

What Does “SSL” Mean?

SSL stands for “secure sockets layer.” It is a type of encryption—like a secret code. When you enter personal information on a website like your name, address and credit card number, the SSL jumbles the information so it’s unreadable on the journey from your computer to the website you’re interacting with.

Compare it to the standard postal service. You’d never send cash through the mail because too many people have the opportunity to steal the envelope from when you drop it in the mailbox to when it reaches its recipient. SSL would be like a giant safe that travels with the letter until it reaches the recipient, who has the one and only key to unlock it.

What’s an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is a credential proving that the party receiving your information online is who they say they are.

In our example above, think of the SSL certificate as showing your ID to pick up a package. Typically, an SSL certificate contains information like:

  • website domain name
  • company name
  • address
  • city
  • state
  • country
  • SSL expiration date

How Does SSL Work?

Say that you’ve been searching for months and finally found the perfect decoration for your office. You go to the website, add the item to your shopping cart and check out. During the checkout process, you enter your name, shipping information and credit card information. When you submit the information for the sale, it gets transferred to the seller who uses it to process the sale.

Between when you type your information and the seller receives it, it’s extremely vulnerable. Anyone could get their hands on the information and steal your name, address and credit card information. Once they have it, they could use it drain your bank account, or they could sell it to someone on the dark web looking for personal information.

SSL scrambles the information you entered to buy the office decoration, so no one can decipher the code except for the intended recipient. On the other end of the transaction, the recipient has a key to interpret the code. The SSL certificate proves the seller uses encryption to create a secure connection between the browser and the server.

How Does SSL Relate to HTTPS?

You may have noticed that when you’ve gone to a website, sometimes the URL has automatically changed from http://www to https://www. The “s” added to the URL indicates that the site is secure, most often with SSL or Transport Layers Security (TSL).

You can tell that a site is secured by any of the following:

  • padlock in the address bar
  • https
  • green address bar

Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate for My Business Website?

Having an SSL certificate gives your customers peace of mind when visiting, sharing information and purchasing items from your website. When you’re working with a business, don’t you want to know that your information is going to be safe?

Even more importantly, if you don’t have a secure website, potential customers may not be able to find your business online. Google places a lot of emphasis on secure websites and trying to make the internet a safer place. To meet its goal, Google promotes pages it knows are safe in its search results. Having a website secured with SSL gives your business a better chance of making it to the coveted first page of Google Search results.

Not only that, Google will show a “Website Not Secure” warning page to Chrome users if your site doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate. This will deter most users from visiting your site, costing you countless opportunities.

You can’t afford not to have a secure site.

Questions About SSL and SSL Certificates?

Do you need to add SSL encryption to your website? Need help with your SSL certificate? Contact 360ideas today. Our team can help answer all of your questions about SSL and SSL certificates.