Data security threats are increasing alarmingly without showing any signs of abatement. We have all seen or heard of security threats that splash across the headlines almost daily. It is a distressing state of affairs. Here are some stats and figures that tell you just how bad things are:
- The 2022 “Hacker-Powered Security Report revealed that ethical discovered over 65,000 vulnerabilities in 2022 alone.
- According to the 2022 Global Risk Report (17th edition), data security measures installed by organizations are increasingly being rendered obsolete by the growing sophistication of hackers’ techniques and tools.
- The eSentire’s 2022 Official Cybercrime Report projects the cost of data breaches to hit $8 trillion in 2023 and grow to a whopping $10.5 trillion by 2025.
Indeed, hackers are relentless, cruel, and harsh, and they take no prisoners. They ravage both large and small organizations in equal measure. Miseries and agony travel your way if you haven’t taken measures to curb your network against attackers. Do not take this as a threat but as a headstart.
What is SSL Encryption
If data breaches were a pandemic, SSL encryption would undoubtedly be the cure. SSL encryption is so vital that almost all, if not all, IT and security experts advocate for it. If you own an eCommerce store, a small blog website, or any form of website (or online application), it is only best that you get and install an SSL certificate on it. Otherwise, you will be treading on the wrong path. A path full of eavesdroppers and prying eyes, ready to launch an attack and steal your data at any golden chance that presents itself.
The secure socket layer (SSL) and its successor transport layer security (TLS) are digital protocol that initiate encryption on the internet. They bind a website’s identity to a cryptographic pair of private and public keys. The public key allows a website to initiate an encrypted session with a web server via the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and TLS protocols. The private key is applied in digitally signing web pages and other documents and is kept secure on the server.
The whole concept of cryptographic keys might sound a bit like rocket science, especially for non-tech-savvy people. So let me try and break everything down in layman’s terms. You have probably noticed some website URLs start with HTTPS while others start with HTTP. HTTPS websites are secure, while HTTP websites are insecure. It is the SSL certificate that makes HTTPS websites secure by giving them encryption abilities. Once an SSL certificate is installed on a website, an HTTP to HTTPS migration happens. All data transfers that happen between the website server and users’ browsers are encrypted. Encrypted data transmits via ciphertext rather than plaintext. No one can understand the gibberish data. The person with decryption keys is the only one who can decipher the data.
Importance of SSL Encryption
Do you still need to be convinced that your website needs an SSL certificate? Here are the benefits an SSL certificate brings to your website.
1. Increased Data Security
Website security is the most significant purpose for obtaining an SSL certificate. The certificate initiates encrypted server-browser sessions that protect all sensitive data from threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks. Sensitive information in this regard might be things such as login credentials, social security numbers, addresses, credit card information, health records, and financial information. You do not want to come face to face with a data breach because, believe me, you might not survive it. All you need to do is buy an SSL certificate, and you are good to go.
2. Safety For All Domains
Still on the security element, the SSL certificate does not just cover the security of the top-level domain and leaves it at that. It goes further to secure all domains and subdomains. A special type of SSL certificate called the wildcard SSL certificate is entrusted with this role. You do not have to spend much money buying multiple SSL certificates to cover your domains. All you need is a single SSL certificate, and you will be good to go. The wildcard SSL certificate is particularly useful for running large business websites with several subdomains.
3. HTTPS Enhances Credibility and Trust
Following the dawn of fake and illegitimate websites with the ill motive of stealing from website users, visitors have become cautious and won’t trust just any website. Not until they have a reason to believe the website is what it says to be. One popular trust indicator website visitors will be looking at is the padlock symbol and HTTPS status. For some reason, there is a common perception among most web visitors that HTTP websites are insecure and most certainly belong to attackers. With an SSL certificate, you get to give your website the HTTPS status alongside a padlock symbol next to the URL address- a perfect signal that your website is secure and can be trusted. Keep in mind that most modern browsers will label HTTP websites as unsafe. Do you expect your website visitors to trust your website that is labelled in such a manner?
4. SEO Advantages
Every digital marketer’s goal is to win the game of visibility in the search engine results pages. But that is not always the case. Search engines with dynamic SEO algorithms set the bar high for digital marketers. But still, it is possible to outshine your competitors in the search engine results pages, and one way to do that is to get SSL and install it on your website. You might already have had of how much Google favours HTTPS websites. And you can confirm this yourself by searching for anything on Google. You will notice that all pages appearing on the top pages are HTTPS. If you intend to enjoy supremacy in the SERPs, you must consider migrating HTTP to HTTPS by buying and installing an SSL certificate.
5. Meeting PCI Requirements
PCI regulations require all websites that deal with online payments to have an SSL certificate. The SSL certificate is among the twelve vital provisions of PCI regulation. Failing to have one might lead you to the wrong side of the law with hefty fines and other penalties from credit card companies.
How To Get an SSL Certificate
There are many ways to obtain an SSL certificate for your website. The first and most common is to check whether your web hosting company provides one. This is why you must be careful when selecting a web hosting provider to ensure you get the most out of it.
You can also acquire an SSL certificate directly from a certificate authority or SSL certificate resellers. Certificate authorities are specialized organizations with the mandate to validate, issue and invalidate SSL certificates. The SSL certificate prices often vary depending on the certificate providers. You can also take advantage of cheap SSL certificates available at SSL providers.
Once you have obtained the certificate, you must proceed to install it by following the following process:
- Prepare all information/documents the certificate authority requires during SSL validation.
- Generate the certificate signing request (CSR) on your server. Your hosting provider or SSL provider can help you with this.
- Submit this to the certificate authority for validation. Complete the configuration process by giving basic information to the SSL provider.
- Upon completion of validation by the certificate authority, the CA will send you an email with SSL certificate. You should follow the guidelines to install your certificate.
Data security is the need of the day. Lacking proper data security measures could bring serious harm to your website. Having an SSL certificate is one of the ways of ensuring data security. Whether you run a small or big company, you do not have any option but to buy and install an SSL certificate. You should never underestimate the potential of your website traffic. Ensure you install an SSL certificate and encrypt your data to be on the safe side. This article has provided you with the fundamental of SSL encryption. It has defined what SSL encryption is, what it entails, its importance, and how to obtain it.