Why an SSL/TLS certificate for your website might be the key to success
Whether you own just one domain or you look after many, having an SSL/TLS certificate has been a best practice for website owners for a long time.
If your company processes transactions (and even if it doesn’t) SSL/TLS certificates give users and customers a higher level of trust in your product or service. This is particularly true if the certificate is arranged by a renowned and trusted Internet security company (also known as a Certificate Authority or CA).
The most recent changes in browser rules (specifically Google Chrome and Firefox) mean that SSL/TLS certificates are more vital than ever before. For many companies, having an SSL/TLS certificate will be even more important because from January 2017, if your site uses passwords or takes credit card information, Chrome will begin labelling sites as not secure if it is not encrypted. Even those websites that don’t process financial transactions will have the label in the address bar for all to see. Such a blatant sign of your site not being secure could have an adverse effect on your user engagement, putting people off going any further on your website. Just like Google and Firefox, other browsers are expected to take the same stance in the near future.
Whether you are a small, medium or large business, there is a straightforward solution for your domain. You need to upgrade to an encrypted website by buying an SSL/TLS certificate that will meet browsers and your users’ needs.
Not all certifications are created equally
The first thing to note is that you can obtain SSL/TLS certificates in many ways, but it is key to realise that not all certificates are equally good.
Some companies will offer certificates completely free or at a very low cost, but they are unlikely to be as good as those offered by reputable internet security companies. A “self-signed” certificate, for example, has been created internally as opposed to having been issued by a CA. These certificates will never carry the same weight as a verified and fully authenticated SSL/TLS certificate.
Several sites use a domain-validated certificate, which is considered entry-level. It is issued speedily and the only verification completed is one that makes sure the applicant owns the domain. No other checks will be undertaken to ensure the domain owner is a valid business entity.
A fully authenticated certificate is the only appropriate first step to creating security and gaining the trust of potential customers. They take slightly longer to issue, as the company is expected to pass a number of validation checks to confirm not only the business’s existence but also the domain ownership and the user’s authority to apply for the certificate.
What to look for in a SSL/TLS certificate
Given that SSL/TLS certificates are nowadays almost non-negotiable for website owners, it’s important that your organisation has a fully authenticated SSL/TLS certificate.
There are many different SSL/TLS certificate options, but they usually run across two major categories:
- Organisation Validation (OV) certificates are where a business is vetted before the certificate is issued. OV certificates are recommended for public-facing websites that don’t handle very much sensitive information.
- Extended Validation (EV) certificates are the very highest level of authentication. This certificate is most beneficial for websites handling credit or debit card data (CHD), personally identifiable information (PII), and other sensitive data.
All SSL/TLS certificates will provide a visual cue, such as a green padlock or similar icon, in the browser. This indicates that the certificate holder has been verified and that there is a higher probability that online trust can be established.
When looking for a certificate provider, make sure you find one that protects users from browsing to buying, carries a good minimum warranty amount, provides a good level of support and management tools for you as a customer, and installation assistance.
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