by Craig Harffey | May 23rd, 2017

A common topic that comes up when talking about hosting and site security.  So what is HTTPS / SSL and what can it do for your website?

Put simply, it’s an encryption layer between websites and browsers to ensure other people cannot see your web traffic.  This may not seem important (especially if it’s not a shop site) but read on to find out why your site should be using it.

It provides encryption

Normal web traffic is sent in “plain text” and is vulnerable to being intercepted and read, leading to the following:

  1. Leakage of personal data such as name and address from forms
  2. Stealing of user credentials and passwords
  3. Changing data and redirecting visitors to malware or phishing sites

As you can see, credit card information isn’t the only data that should be protected from eavesdropping and the good news is there is an easy way to protect your site visitors.

It provides authentication and trust

A popular tactic with criminals is to clone a website and attract visitors to it with the sole purpose of harvesting logins, personal data and credit card details.  These “phishing” sites will look identical to the real thing and even perform similar functions and then return the user to the correct site leaving them unaware that anything is wrong.  With SSL you can be sure the site you are connected to is the real one.

To be issued a certificate, the website owner must prove they own the relevant site and there are varying levels of identity checks and varying levels of trust applied to certificates.  Ecommerce sites may require certificates with a higher level of authentication and trust such as an EV Certificate (Extended Validation).  For most websites,  a low cost or free SSL certificate is often sufficient.

Any other advantages?

As if that wasn’t enough, Google are leading the drive for ubiquitous encryption across the web.  The last few releases of their Chrome browser have contained indicators where a site is not using SSL and all the indications are there that these will become more prominent and serious looking.  Fjrefox has also followed suit this year.  Whether you agree or disagree with this approach one thing is for sure – the average web user will trust an SSL website more than others.

And finally – Google search favours SSL sites in search rankings.

As you can see – there are a number of advantages (and no real disadvantages) to switching to HTTPS for your site.

Next time we’ll show how simple this can be but if you want to find out more, get in touch.

Browser Warnings in Google Chrome

Here’s what you can see when looking at what Google considers to be a safe site and an unsafe one.  The warnings will become more prominent in future releases of the browser.

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