If you are one of those who is planning to launch an e-commerce website, then you already might have heard the term "SSL" a dozen times. And as I guessed you might be confused since you are not familiar with the term and several questions like what is it, how does it work, why is it so crucial, and blah blah blah might be going on your mind.
Relax, that is why we are posting this article. SSL initially may seem as a complicated topic but once you understand what exactly it is and why you need it, it doesn't seem any more like rocket science.
So let's start with an introduction to SSL, why you need it, and how you can get one for your store. By the end of this article, your confusion should be gone.
What is an SSL and What Does it Stand for?
First of all, SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it is also sometimes called as Transport Layer Security (TLS). SSL is a protocol used to protect sensitive information to be private. It basically establishes an encrypted connection between the web browser and server by exchanging a symmetric key.
Every message that transmits should pass the internal inspection for the uprightness of this encryption before it works. And by any chance, if the check fails, the encrypted information will be safe. We use SSL almost every day when we browse sites like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and other e-commerce stores like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. The encryption used restricts hackers and eavesdroppers who steal sensitive information like credit cards or user credentials.
How Important is SSL to Websites?
Any website which wants to secure its transaction details, it will have to acquire an SSL certificate for that domain. The SSL certificate utilizes the encryption to all the website activities from page and form submissions and product pages to financial transactions. Hence, this restricts hackers from stealing your valuable data and other such attacks.
SSL for E-Commerce Websites
Because of its data protection nature, SSL is extensively used by almost every e-commerce store which collects customers' private and payment-related information. There are 2 main reasons behind the usage of SSL certificates
The very first reason for using SSL certificates is to keep sensitive information safe by sending them with an encrypted connection. Usually, e-commerce websites need customers' private information like user credentials, credit or debit card details for payment, etc. which could easily be stolen by thieves during it is sent by the customer to the server or the other way around if there are no encryption methods employed.
It is completely your responsibility to keep your customers' information safe and confidential. By utilizing an SSL certificate to enable SSL encryption not only makes your website's data but also your customers' private information well encrypted and thus becomes unreadable to anybody to steal your data.
The security of the private information especially credit or debit card details has always been the biggest concern of e-shopping customers because of the hacks and identity thefts happen every day. Consequently, customers are being quite careful while making online purchases which ultimately leads to the sales of your e-commerce store. If you are not able to convince your customers that their payment-related information is protected, then how can you expect them to trust you and buy products from your e-store?
With SSL enabled, your customers will feel a sense of protection and thus end up coming back to your website for future purchases.
How to Know if a Website Uses SSL?
There are 3 instant ways to find whether a website has an SSL certificate or not.
1. Look for a green colored "lock" icon in the address bar
2. The website URL starts with "https" instead of "http"
3. You can also check using SSL Installation Checker tool
Depending on the usage of SSL by a website, the above points may not be applicable to every page. Earlier, this wasn't the scenario. The Internet Standard was that the SSL certificates were limited to domains or certain pages where private information like payment-related data is sent or received.
But, when in 2014 Google announced that as the website security is a top priority for them that is why they had started using HTTPS as a ranking signal. Which means that a website having an SSL certificate had a greater opportunity at ranking higher for a search compared to the website not having one.
This has changed the whole picture of having an SSL certificate. Instead of securing just one page, store owners have started encrypting their websites with full SSL certificates, replacing their URLs from "HTTP" to "HTTPS."
How to Know if You Need an SSL Certificate for Your Store?
Well, by now you might have understood the need and importance of an SSL certificate for an e-commerce store. But, how to know if your store needs one? It's simple if your website doesn't require any kind of sensitive data then you may not really need one. Because the only thing that excludes store owners from having SSL certificates is the usage of offsite payment processors like PayPal.
If someone or you making a payment through PayPal then PayPal is responsible for keeping your financial data secure and safe. In such scenarios, you don't need an SSL because the information is never stored in your database for someone else to steal it.
Usually, offsite payment processors often have their own security systems and methods to safely process the transactions. Hence you don't need an SSL because they will have it covered.
Another scenario is if you don't allow your customers to create accounts (no username & no password) of any kind on your website then in that case too you wouldn't be needing an SSL. Which means unless you disable this account functionality on your website, you will need an SSL certificate to secure those accounts.
How to Get an SSL Certificate?
Well, there are lots and lots of websites who provide SSL certificates within no time. Some of the popular ones are GeoTrust, Comodo SSL and RapidSSL, There are different plans and pricing for certificates so before you purchase one , spend a few minutes correctly choosing the one you need.
To protect your customers' data and expand your business, it is extremely important to use an SSL certificate. As there are many providers of SSL, we recommend you to choose a reliable web host at an affordable price.