If someone strikes up a conversation with you about the secure sockets layer, would you assume that they were talking about something that belongs in your toolbox? If so, it might be time for an update on how the digital side of your business works.
You’ve most likely got a website for your company and maybe a few social media accounts. Ideally, you even use these as a method to interact with your community and bring in additional jobs. Are your online interactions secure, though?
The secure sockets layer (better known as SSL) is a web technology that’s dedicated to keeping communications safe between parties online. Due to the increasing risks of doing business online, SSL is an essential part of just about any business that operates its own website… even if the business operates primarily in the physical world. If you’re not up to date on what SSL is and how it helps your business, here’s a quick overview of the technology and why even contractors want SSL.
What Is SSL?
Many look at SSL as a digital “passport” for a website, ensuring that the site is on the up-and-up while visitors are present. It creates a secure connection between the visitor’s computer and the server that the site is hosted on. This provides visitors with the “https” connection that you’ve likely seen on other sites, as compared to the standard “http” connection created without SSL security. When connecting to the server, a user’s browser looks for a valid SSL certificate and changes to the secure connection type if one is found.
What Does SSL Do?
An SSL certificate provides an external certification that a website is on the up-and-up, since the data provided on the site’s certificate can be confirmed through the issuing certificate provider. More importantly, though, it provides encryption keys used by the server and the user’s computer to encrypt all communications so they can’t be intercepted and read. This may not seem that important if you just have basic information about your company on your website, but what if you have contact forms or other communications options for customers? What if you offer online payment processing? You can see just how important that secure connection would be.
Boosting Customer Confidence
Even if you don’t have any sort of sensitive data transactions to secure, there’s one other big advantage of having SSL on your site: It makes your company look better to potential customers. A valid SSL certificate makes sure that they don’t receive security warnings while visiting your site, and also protects them from fears of being redirected to scam sites or other undesired locations. Not every visitor to your website will notice that they’ve got a secure connection, but those that do will feel much safer while visiting your page.
SSL and the Future
Even if you’re not completely convinced that SSL is a necessity for you, you really do need it. Search engines are already showing preference toward sites with SSL. Some browsers flash warnings about insecure sites if an SSL certificate isn’t found when making a connection. Given how important online security is these days, having your website flagged as insecure could drive potential customers away and may eventually knock your site out of search results entirely.
Fortunately, SSL certificates aren’t hard to come by. Many web hosts are starting to offer free SSL certificates to help ensure customer loyalty because of their increasing importance in the online world. Whether you have a strong need for encryption and security on your site or not, the benefits of setting up SSL far outweigh any savings you might receive from skipping it.