Have you ever been perusing the internet and opened up a website on your device only to be greeted by a startling message to “Go Back, Unsecure Site” or noticed that there is a message from the browser stating the place you are headed is “Unsecure?” Did it scare you enough to backtrack? Or maybe you made a note not to use that site anymore.Sometimes these messages come with a popup window or a colorful warning exclamation mark, while others are merely a missing security padlock on the web browser address bar. Either way, it is a warning signal to customers that where they are heading isn’t secure. It may be just enough to cause a customer to click off a site and look elsewhere for products or services. Now ask yourself if your website is secure? Does it have an SSL certificate which gives the notation of HTTPS in the browser bar? If not, you may be scaring your customers away with the fear that their data is not secure. Read on to find out what an SSL certificate is, why you need it and how this protects your business in today’s highly digitized world.
A Little Background on Secure Websites
What was once commonplace to be visiting websites that were not fully encrypted has now become the exception to the rule. According to security researcher Scott Helme, “More than one-half (51.8 percent) of the one million most visited websites worldwide now actively redirect to HTTPS, the secure version of the HTTP protocol over which data between a device and a website is transmitted.”Over the last several years, websites have been transitioning to HTTPS. The letter S of HTTPS stands for “secure” — which does provide encryption (and authentication) and is used by millions of websites including Google, Facebook and Amazon, to protect information while browsing, logging in and making purchases.
What is HTTPS?
The computer world has lots and lots of jargon that is not necessary for most laypeople to understand. However, if you are a business owner and you rely heavily on traffic coming in to and flowing out of your website, you should know about HTTPS and the little padlock that appears in the web browser address bar. HTTPS stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) and is the secure version of HTTP, which was once the most common method to send data between a web browser and the website. HTTPS is the security feature that authenticates websites and protects the information users submit to them. This is critically important especially if your website accepts logins, collects emails, and contains sensitive credit card and financial data. Without this denotation of a secure site customers will get a “Not Secure” warning sign. This means there is a lack of security for the connection to that page. The alert tells customers that the information sent and received with that page is unprotected and it could potentially be stolen, read, or modified by attackers, hackers and entities with access to internet infrastructure (like Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and governments). The “Not Secure” warning does not mean that your computer or the site you are visiting is affected by malware. It only serves to alert you that you do not have a secure connection with that page. It’s enough to scare away customers that you could probably use.The fear behind using a website that does not have the HTTPS notation or the padlock indicating this may mean that, everything typed or clicked on that website is being sent without encryption. This means that anyone who intercepts the data transferred between the website and your computer can readily view them. Cybercriminals can exploit this fact to gain access to your personal data, Social Security number, credit card information, and the like. This puts all of your viewers and customers at risk of identity theft and other fraudulent activities.
How Do I Gain a HTTPS Designation?
Now that you understand the importance that your site has the HTTPS designation and security encryption that comes with it, you will want to get an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate stands for Secure Sockets Layer and, in short, it's the standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure. An SSL is also referred to as a Transport Layer Security or TLS. Recently, the TLS designation has been more commonly used as the protocol for encrypting Internet traffic and verifying server identity. The SSL or TLS makes sure that any data transferred between users and sites, or between two systems remains impossible to read. It uses encryption algorithms to scramble data in transit, preventing hackers from reading it as it is sent over the connection. This information could be anything sensitive or personal which can include credit card numbers and other financial information, names, and addresses.As of 2020, there are about 2 billion websites globally. However, less than 400 million of these are active. Amazingly enough even some of the top sites across the globe are still not secure with an SSL or TLS certificate verifying encryption of customer data.
Why Use HTTPS?
Consumers are getting more and more savvy as the years go on. People are browsing on their laptops, desktops, and smartphones all day long, from anywhere. They have become educated about protecting their identity and how to avoid visiting questionable sites that may not take care of their private data. This means that while consumers scroll, they are keenly aware of which sites are secure and which are not. Do you want your website to be overlooked because it does not provide the level of security or encryption that users have come to expect? There are several reasons, therefore, why customers would want to use HTTPS sites and why business owners should switch to doing so immediately.
Websites Using HTTPS are More Trustworthy for Users
Consider the people that are visiting your website. While some may be blissfully unaware of the protections that are provided by an HTTPS website, others may know all too well that without this protocol, their data is not protected. By adding this certificate to your site you are making your website more trustworthy to all who visit.
HTTPS is More Secure for Website Owners
Website owners also benefit from having the security designation provided by an SSL certificate. With HTTPS, data is encrypted in transit in both directions: going to and coming from the origin server. That means that owners of sites can depend on sensitive and personal data from within the company to be protected as well as data coming in from loyal consumers.
HTTPS Authenticates Websites
Let’s use an analogy here to explain how HTTPS authenticates a site. Take, for example, a rideshare company we all use such as Lyft or Uber. We don’t usually just jump into a car that arrives to pick us up without checking the name of the driver, license, or the plate number given by the app, right? We authenticate the car before we step foot into it because we value our safety. The same goes for a website. Users are looking for authentication before they click on or enter their personal data to purchase a product or service. The HTTPS designation indicates a verification of that security, like the license and identification of the rideshare does. In addition to authentication there are rewards from the search engine giant Google as well. Google now advocates that HTTPS, or SSL, should be used everywhere on the web and, as of 2014, the search engine has been rewarding secured websites with improved web rankings, another great reason for any site to install SSL.
The Bottom Line
While some websites have been slow to adopt this newer website security, more and more are realizing the value in having a site that is recognized as being secure. Even if your business does not deal in personal or sensitive information, the mere fact that browsers recognize it as secure can mean a validation of your brand name and business as a whole. In addition to creating a level of trust between a business and their visitors, many businesses can enable HTTPS on their sites in a user-friendly way and at zero cost these days. Regardless of the size of your business or whether it needs to access and store private data, your site should adopt these protocols for safety. Talk to our team about how you can secure your site going forward.