What is an SSL Certificate and Why Does It Matter?

There are now over 1.58 billion active websites in the world. Not every site is made equally, though. In fact, many websites lack the security necessary to protect their visitors.

If someone loses their private information to a hacker after visiting your website, they might not come back. In fact, nearly 90% of online visitors won’t return after a bad experience. They could tell friends about their negative experiences, too.

Your brand’s reputation could take a hit as a result.

Instead, consider adding an SSL certificate to your website. What is an SSL certificate, exactly, and how can it help? Keep reading to find out.

In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know. Then, you can receive your free SSL certificate and give your visitors peace of mind.

Make the best choice for your website and business. Read on to learn more. 

What is an SSL Certificate?

First, let’s answer the question that’s likely on your mind: what is an SSL certificate, exactly?

SSL stands for Security Socket Layer. SSL is a protocol designed to authenticate and encrypt data between an application and a web server. With an SSL certificate, you can create a more secure environment for your visitors.

“SSL” is often associated with the Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate. In fact, TLS is the successor; a more updated version of the original SSL certificate. Some people might use SSL and TLS interchangeably.

The original version of SSL was created in the early 1990s by Netscape. It was never released to the public due to security flaws, though. Instead, the first released version, SSL 2.0, was released in February 1995.

Due to its own security flaws, SSL 2.0 was redesigned, prompting the release of SSL 3.0 a year later.

An SSL certificate can provide you with reliable encryption. It also improves your credibility through third-party validation.

In order to apply for an SSL/TLS certificate, you’ll need to own a company or domain. Then, you’ll send the application to a credible third-party, the Certifying Authority (CA). The CA will scrutinize your application before rejecting or approving it. 

The application review process can take a few hours or days, depending on the certificate type. The certificate will then enable the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). HTTPS is the superior version of HTTP.

If your website has the HTTPS protocol, you’ll see a green lock to the left of your website’s URL.

Today, most certifying authorities use TLS 2.0 for superior encryption.

How Does It Work?

How exactly does an SSL certificate keep your website secure?

First, you’ll need to install your certificate on the web server hosting your website. The SSL will then activate the HTTPS protocol.

An advanced cryptographic suite will contain complex algorithms to encrypt all server-client communications. The HTTPS protocol uses this suite to provide superior encryption on your website.

The encryption process will start when a browser sends a request to an SSL encrypted website. Each visit triggers the SSL handshake process. This process indicates the server and client agree upon a cipher suite, which generates session keys.

When the browser tries to connect with the web server, it will require the server to identify itself. The server will then respond with its public key and the SSL certificate.

Then, the browser is able to evaluate the root certificate for confirmation. 

Session keys are symmetric, temporary keys that expire after each user session. If someone tries to intercept the encrypted data, it will appear illegible. 

Types of SSL Certificates

You can choose different SSL/TLS certificates based on whether you need validation or security coverage. There are also hybrid certificates available.

Validation-based certification includes:

  • Domain validated SSL certificates
  • Organization validated SSL certificates
  • Extended validation SSL certificates

Coverage-based classifications include:

  • Single-domain SSL certificates
  • Multi-domain SSL certificates
  • Wildcard SSL certificates

You can consult an SSL certificate expert to determine what type of certification your website needs.

Benefits of Having an SSL Certificate

Why does having an SSL certificate matter? Here are a few reasons you should acquire a free SSL certificate for your website. 

1. Protect Your Visitors

Consumers won’t choose a business that has a long history of getting hacked. In fact, your website users expect you to protect their data. Some people avoid using websites that don’t already have an SSL certificate.

Your certificate will protect the user’s email address, credit card information, and other personal data. You’ll give your website users peace of mind, knowing their information is safe.

2. Remain Compliant

Data privacy laws change all the same. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recommends that websites have HTTPS. Remember, the HTTPS protocol is activated after you install an SSL certificate.

Without the HTTPS protocol, you’ll struggle to remain compliant. You might have to pay a hefty fine as a result. Instead, you can remain compliant with the most recent data privacy laws to protect your business.

3. Improve Your Credibility

Remember, customers might not choose your business if you don’t prioritize their safety. Learning how to get an SSL certificate will show customers you care. You can improve their online user experience as a result.

By showing customers you care about their needs, you can also improve your online credibility. Otherwise, customers might second guess choosing your business. They might leave your website and choose a competitor’s instead.

4. Stronger SEO

What if people visit your website, see you don’t have an SSL/TLS certificate, and leave? Your clickthrough rate and dwell times will drop. Meanwhile, your bounce rate will increase.

A high bounce rate can have a negative impact on your search engine ranking. You could waste valuable time and money. If your ranking drops, consumers might struggle to find you online.

An SSL certificate will support your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. You can rank higher, reach more customers, and boost your business!

What is an SSL Certificate?: Your Guide to Staying Secure

Don’t leave your customers’ private information at risk. Instead, consider adding an SSL certificate to your website. With an SSL/TLS certificate, you can protect your users and give them peace of mind.

Your search engine ranking will also improve, allowing you to reach more customers. 

Want to add a certificate to your website? We can help!

Contact us today to get started.