Everyday we’re inundated with messages about Internet security and staying safe online. It can be hard to separate what’s a genuine threat with what seems like a fad or a marketing ploy. The unfortunate reality is that is we get more entrenched in the online sphere, the more vigilant everyone needs to be. It’s unsurprising, then, that a common question asked by many website owners is, “Do I really need an SSL certificate?”.
If you run a website of any kind, the short answer to that question is: Yes
. Your website does need an SSL certificate. It doesn’t matter what kind of website you have, if you want eyeballs on your site and to keep your users safe, an SSL certificate is absolutely necessary.
Why SSL is important for your site
In case you need a primer, SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a type of technology that encrypts the information your browser sends to or receives from a website. This means that only you and the website you’re sending it to can read it. So, any website that has SSL certificate makes browsing and sharing information safer for its users. When a website has an SSL certificate, you can recognize it from a little padlock in the address bar, or the HTTPS prefix before the rest of the URL.
If you don’t sell anything on your website or ask for what you consider sensitive information from users, you might be scratching your head right now. It’s true that SSL certificates are particularly pertinent for e-commerce stores, and just a few years ago SSL was mostly recommended for sites that took payments, but every other kind of website can benefit from an SSL certificate.
Secure Your Connection
For hackers and any kind of malicious third party, all information that can be intercepted about your users, however seemingly innocuous, can potentially be used to build a profile of that person. Login pages and web forms are particularly vulnerable if you don’t have SSL enabled on your website. What about if your site doesn’t ask users for any information whatsoever? Maybe you just have a simple blog, with no logins or forms to be seen, and you certainly don’t need anyone’s credit card information. Do you need an SSL certificate then?
The answer to that is also yes, unless you’re fine with Google marking your website as unsafe
. Recent changes to Google’s Chrome browser and search engine rankings have helped penalize websites without SSL. It doesn’t matter what kind of website you have, users with Google Chrome trying to access your site will receive a message that it is not secured. Most who see such a message will not to proceed. Furthermore, Google’s search engine gives higher priority to secured websites, so websites with SSL rank higher.
In the end, having an SSL isn’t only about protecting user’s data, it’s also an important marker of trust. Whatever kind of website you have, if you have an SSL certificate, users will know that they will have a safe browsing experience, whatever happens.