SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it is the basic security level you need on your website in order to protect data that travels back and forth between a web browser and the server. SSL security is used anywhere you see a URL with ‘https’ instead of just ‘http’. If you’ve ever bought anything online, it should have gone through a website with SSL security. So what is SSL and how can you ensure that your site uses it.

SSL Certificates

An SSL certificate is the digital certification required for an SSL encrypted site. Browsers essentially police websites by identifying the SSL certificate and determining whether or not the SSL certificate is chained to a trusted root certificate. If you’ve ever gotten a message saying that your browser has determined that the security on a website is not from a trusted source, that means the SSL certificate isn’t chained to a trusted root certificate.

Certificates are issued by a certificate authority only if the company applying for an SSL certificate has been researched and their identity has been confirmed. If you would like your website to have SSL security, you can apply for a certificate and confirm that you are the owner of your domain name. The certificate will be for a limited amount of time and will need to be removed after it has expired.

Who Needs SSL Security?

SSL security provides encryption that protects user data as it travels between your website’s server and the browser they’re using on their computer. Users are advised to never enter bank or credit card information on a site that doesn’t have SSL security. If you run a website that has an e-commerce section or if you want people to send you donations or money, SSL security is not required but it would be foolish not to have.

Not only will people be less likely to buy from your site or send you money, you will also open unknowing users up to the risk of their information being stolen and used for nefarious purposes. It’s simply not worth the risk to your users and your business to conduct an e-commerce site without knowing what is SSL and acquiring an SSL certificate.

While getting and maintaining SSL certificates may seem like a hassle, once you have answered the question of what is SSL, you can see how critical it is to include SSL security on your website.