Although we see them a lot on the web, few people actually know what SSL Certificates are. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a way that website owners can encrypt the information that is transferred from the user to their server.
You have probably, at one time or another, been browsing the web and seen a gold padlock symbol next to the web address. Well, that is a symbol that shows you that the particular site you are viewing is encrypted with SSL. The fact that the web address starts with “https://” instead of “http://” also shows that the website has an SSL Certificate.
While that’s all pretty neat, you are still probably wondering what an SSL Certificate can practically do for your website. Well, if you require users to input information that may be classified as confidential, an SSL Certificate is a very good idea for your site. Generally, the only time you will be receiving input like this is if you run an online store.
It is not illegal to have a shopping cart without an SSL Certificate. However, users may not buy from your site if they don’t see the gold padlock symbol by the address bar in their browser.
If you do have an online store without SSL, you are basically telling hackers, “Hey! Come get my customer’s credit card information!!” I don’t think you want that kind of message to come across!
Usually, you can buy SSL from your hosting company or domain registrar. However, you can also get it from other places. Here are a few good places to get one:
Just like domain names, you pay for SSL Certificates yearly. Prices can range from $30 to over $1,000 a year! Some plans will give your customers more assurance that your site is protected, but they don’t usually provide better protection. So, don’t be fooled, usually the cheapest plan does the same thing as the more expensive one (practically speaking).
While in most cases SSL Certificates are not necessary for your website, there are some times when it is essential to your business!