Whenever you see a website with https instead of http, it indicates that this site has a SSL certificate. If you are unsure if your own website has a SSL installed or not, simply add a “s” after the http. For instance, visit https://DomainHere.com or https://www.DomainHere.com (replace DomainHere with your own domain name). If you see a security warning, it means that there is no SSL and that visitor should use http instead.
=1= What is a SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a security program that encrypts links and data transfers between a website and its server. The SSL makes sure that any data transferred between the server and the browser used to view the website is encrypted and private. Data could be information you collect on your contact form that is entered by the sender and received by you. It could be credit card information to make a payment. It could be data entered in a survey available on your site. There are many instanced when data is transferred between your site and the server where it resides.
=2= Who needs a SSL?
If you accept payment on your website, you must have a SSL certificate otherwise your make the credit card information entered by your buyers susceptible to hacking and spamming. The same is true is you have a membership type website. Even though the membership may be free, you are still collecting information from members such as their names and email. All of this can be hacked if no SSL is in place.
If your site has been comprised at one point by either a hacker or a malicious script, adding a SSL will add an extra level of security to your site. It won’t prevent returning hackers but it will encrypt the information transferred from your site to your server.
=3= How much is a SSL and were do you get one?
For most websites, a standard SSL certificate is fine. They cost about $80 per year. Think of it as a small insurance policy and the cost of doing business online. If your company is large or in a specific industry like financial institutions, you may need a more advanced SSL. To get started, just call your hosting provider (Examples: GoDaddy, Network Solutions, BlueHost, etc.) and they will tell you how much it is. Some require a SSL for the same amount of time you paid for hosting.
=4= Who installs the SSL?
If your site is hosted with a large hosting provider like GoDaddy, you can buy it directly from them. Upon payment (always make sure to ask for a discount or look for a promo code online!), you will receive an email with instructions on how to install it. It is not very complicated but could be time consuming if you are not tech savvy at all. In such case, just hire your web designer for a couple of hours to do the work for you.
=5= Issues to anticipate:
It is very common that a site with a new SSL does not show that it is fully secured. You will know if this is the case when the icon on the left end side of the URL is not fully green and may even show a security warning. The cause is often due to images on the pages that are using http instead of https or links to other internal pages which are also using http without the “s”. That is an easy fix but can be very time consuming to clear up if there are many of those to fix. Another cause could be integrated elements from other website. A good example is if you have a Google map integrated on your site (perhaps on the contact page). The code that brings the map onto your page would need editing, again to show https when integrating from Google instead of the standard http.
If you want to install a SSL on your existing website and need help, contact our team at 707-794-9999 and we can assist you with a low flat fee.