A great deal has been written about the importance of secure online browsing and ecommerce transactions from a consumer perspective, but the business angle is rarely discussed. Yet online security is arguably even more important to companies than to their customers. Unless a business exclusively markets its own products, rival suppliers probably sell them as well. A customer can easily go elsewhere, but any firm will become unprofitable (and ultimately fail) if it doesn’t attract a reasonable volume of transactions and turnover.
There are several aspects involved in keeping corporate data safe, not least employing a dependable web hosting company to protect your site’s files and folders in a specialist data centre. Regularly updating plugins and antivirus tools is equally vital, keeping emerging threats at bay. But perhaps the most significant element of maintaining a secure website involves HTTPS security – in other words, an SSL certificate.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL certificates trace their lineage back to the mid-1990s when Netscape decided to introduce greater security into its unencrypted Navigator browser. A Secure Sockets Layer certificate created a private connection between a webpage and a user device, encrypting every piece of data sent back and forth. As a consequence, information couldn’t be intercepted or spied on by third parties. This hugely reduced the scope for criminal activities, giving Netscape users the confidence to browse and buy without worrying about cybercrime. It also elevated early adopters above less conscientious rivals.
Why does it matter?
Netscape was taken over, Navigator fell from favour, and SSL’s vulnerabilities led to its replacement by the more robust Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. Even so, the name – and the principle of encrypted communications – stuck. Other web browsers began recognising SSL/TLS, and today they all support encrypted communication tunnels. Indeed, as Google and Bing refine their algorithms to favour high-quality results, HTTPS actively increases a platform’s SEO performance. A trustworthy website wouldn’t risk user safety by accepting payment details or personal information across an unsecured internet connection, where anyone could be listening in and taking notes…
How do I acquire an SSL certificate?
To a criminal, an SSL certificate represents a fairly impenetrable obstacle. Yet it’s surprisingly straightforward to acquire and install. UK2 includes them in every Business and Business Cloud hosting package, while SSL can be added to other hosting packages by purchasing them through the CHI control panel. Configuring the certificate is a job of mere moments, though it may take a few hours to be validated.
Once SSL is in place, customers immediately start reaping the benefits of its presence. More importantly, any data they provide won’t be seen by anyone else. Most companies
experiencing a severe data loss fail within six months, and even loyal clients will quietly drift away to competitor platforms. SSL might literally keep your firm trading, though you’ll never know how many attempted attacks it’s prevented…
How do consumers identify SSL sites?
There are three main indications that a website offers secure connectivity:
- The http:// web address is replaced with an https:// prefix
- A small padlock icon appears beside the web address
- The browser bar turns green
Web browsers are becoming increasingly strident about insecure websites, occasionally attempting to prevent people visiting a non-https platform if the browser feels it might be unsafe. Google and Bing are less likely to recommend insecure sites, and the public is increasingly unwilling to visit – let alone buy from – non-https platforms. Even putting security to one side, SSL is a vital tool for competing in today’s ultra-competitive online marketplace.