What Is an SSL Certificate? Everything You Need to Know

What Is an SSL Certificate? Everything You Need to Know

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a standard security technology for encrypting information between the users computer and the website. This helps keep sensitive details such as passwords and payment information safe from hackers, making people feel safer on websites that have an SSL certificate.

It can be identified by clicking on the padlock icon in your browser's address bar or by checking for https in your URL.

Why do I need an SSL certificate?

Most of us are now familiar with going to a secure website (for example, many banks) and seeing a lock next to the site's title - indicating you're securely connected to that server using an SSL connection. When you check out at Amazon.com it also has the little padlock in the browser bar.

It's becoming more and more important to have an SSL certificate on your website these days, as many search engines now look at whether or not you have one before ranking your site. In addition, people tend to feel safer when visiting a website that is encrypted with SSL.

Before we continue SSL stands for "Secure Sockets Layer" and it has nothing to do with cookies (another name for them is HTTP cookies). Cookies are used by websites to store information such as user preferences for interaction between multiple pages of a site and will be saved on their computer so they don't have re-enter information such as username/password each time they go back to a site where they're already logged in. Cookies are also used by advertisers to keep track of the number of times a user has seen an advertisement (so they know when it's time to show you a new one).

An SSL certificate encrypts messages between your browser and any web server on the Internet, which means it keeps your information safe from prying eyes, like hackers or even law enforcement agencies that might try to spy on your connection.

When someone visits an encrypted website for the first time, his computer will generate a public key and send it to the site's server. The certificate authority (the company responsible for verifying that website) then checks this against its own database of valid certificates; if the two match, the connection is allowed through. If not, it's blocked.

This connection means that both parties will always encrypt their messages, so it's almost impossible for a third party to eavesdrop on the conversation and see what they're saying. This is especially useful when someone is shopping online or sending private information like passwords.

It's also important for people who are concerned about privacy, such as journalists working with sensitive sources. If your connection is encrypted, it becomes very difficult for others to read your email or access documents on your computer (even if they manage to get into your machine).

You can see why as more and more of us start using the Internet for everything from shopping to booking, we need an SSL certificate on our website.

Who needs an SSL certificate?

Anybody who collects any kind of sensitive information from users on their site should have an SSL certificate on the site. This includes banks, e-commerce sites, or even all sites that use a login page (including Google and Facebook). An SSL certificate is highly recommended when you are storing credit card numbers or user logins.

What can go wrong without an SSL certificate?

Without encryption between your browser and web server, anybody that knows how to monitor traffic between you and that server (hackers for example) could potentially "sniff" out what you're sending back and forth - including usernames, passwords, search queries and anything else in plain text. This is especially important if you're using a public Wi-Fi connection, like at your local coffee shop.

Another big issue is that without an SSL certificate, you can no longer show up in the search engines as secure (SSL sites get preferential treatment in the results). If this isn't something you're interested in — it's time to look into getting an SSL certificate.

When I should get an SSL certificate?

If you have any kind of online shopping cart on your website and store credit card numbers or other sensitive information, odds are you need an SSL certificate for your site - right now! Even if there's no user login involved — if someone could find out what page they're checking out from and see their order total with shipping address (even if it has nothing to do with their username and password), they could potentially use this information against you. This is also true if you're collecting additional information like gift cards or shipping addresses for a purchase.

In addition, Google now includes SSL as one of the components that make up their search rankings — sites without an SSL certificate will no longer appear as secure on Google's pages (even if they are). For your site to show up correctly in Google's results, it must be marked "secure". 

Is my website currently secure?

If someone uses https:// instead of http:// when typing out the URL of your website into their browser, then most likely at least some parts of your site are using an SSL certificate.

The http:// part is the section that will be encrypted, so you can tell if you're currently on a secure connection. But if somebody is looking at your website over a public Wi-Fi connection or any other network where anyone else could potentially listen in — it's highly recommended that you secure this information with encryption.

Why do I need to use an SSL certificate monitoring?

The need to keep up to date SSL certificates has become increasingly important as more organizations use internet-based transactions and interactions. Cyberattacks have also grown more common and expensive, with many hackers attempting to exploit any vulnerability they can find.

There are a lot of moving components in maintaining proper network security, and one of the most important is monitoring the expiration dates for each SSL certificate that has been put into place across the environment.

SSL certificate monitoring tools automate the process of testing a web server's capacity to accept incoming sessions over a secure channel and verifying the security certificate' s expiration date. SSL certificates are used to secure all sorts of transactions, including online shopping and financial information. Because they're so popular and trusted for secure communications and transfers, keeping track of them is critical in avoiding revenue loss and consumer confidence problems as well as data breaches that may result from data breaches.

Today, most consumers expect that their web transactions are secure. Since HTTPS is a must, any mistake in configuration can render your website inaccessible to customers. We keep your SSL certificates up to date so that your website remains accessible and shows the verified lock to your visitors by ssl certificate monitoring.

Don’t lose visitors because of expired SSL certificate. Use an SSL certificate monitoring service and get notified before expiry so you have time to act.

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