SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the original security protocol developed by Netscape in the 1990s.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology used for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client. Typically this link is established between a web server (website) and a browser; or a mail server and a mail client (e.g., Outlook).
Websites secured with SSL display a padlock in the browser’s URL, and often a green address bar, if secured by an EV certificate.
Security Benefits of SSL
Cyber-attacks on businesses of every size are on the rise, and they show no sign of easing. Every business that values customer trust must consider adding an SSL certificate, particularly if they use their website to require, receive, process, collect, store, or display confidential or sensitive information.
Online security is also a priority for consumers. According to testing by BigCommerce merchants and by other SSL providers, SSL certificates help drive higher conversion rates. The https serves as “the shopper’s signal that all of their information is transmitted over that secure protocol.”
An SSL certificate, also referred to as a “digital certificate,” serves two functions:
- It authenticates the identity of the website (this guarantees visitors that they’re not on a bogus site)
- It encrypts the data that’s being transmitted
It’s a protocol designed to create a more secure browsing experience on the Web. – Michael Burk; Senior Director of Product Management at BigCommerce
Intended to provide trust and confidence for consumers, data sent using HTTPS is secured via Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which provides three key layers of protection:
- Encryption. Encrypting the exchanged data to keep it secure.
- Data Integrity. Data cannot be modified or corrupted during transfer without being detected.
- Authentication proves that your users communicate with the intended website.
Because the threat of “hackers” intercepting communication on the Internet is a very real concern, many payment gateways that process credit card and other financial information now require merchants to transmit sensitive data via HTTPS. If your website will handle transactions that involve credit card or other personal data, SSL certificates are a must-have.
Search Ranking Benefits of SSL
At Google I/O in early 2014, Google called for “HTTPS everywhere” on the web.
Later in the year, on August 6th 2014, Google confirmed that a 2048-bit key SSL certificate provides websites with a small ranking benefit. With that being said, the search engine giant was quick to clarify that it only counts as a “very lightweight signal,” within Google’s overall ranking algorithm.
We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal. – Google Webmaster Central Blog
Although it is only making a small contribution at the moment, over time Google may decide to strengthen its role. After all, their goal is to encourage all website owners to embrace HTTPS, and in doing so keep everyone safe on the Web.
A Final Thought On SSL And HTTPS
With SSL certificate costs being relatively low, price should not present a barrier to adoption for even small business owners. The fact is that the proper use of an SSL certificate will help protect customers, it will help protect business owners, and it will help business and brands earn the trust of their customers.
Note: The SSL protocol has been updated, and the latest version is called Transport Layer Security, or TLS. Thus, HTTPS (also known as HTTP over TLS, or Transport Layer Security