These days it is hard to hop online and not come across a news article discussing the latest hacked website, web application, or database. In fact, the topic of online privacy and security (or lack thereof) has become so commonplace on mass media websites, blogs, and TV news, that the concept of a website security breach almost seems normal.
Needless to say, this feeling of normalcy is dangerous.
User Error, or Implementation Error?
Many web security experts will claim that user complacency is to blame, but the fact is that many established websites don’t have basic security measures in place to protect their users or private data – including SSL encryption, and mandatory user password requirements.
Some industry leaders, such as Google, are working hard to incentivize web developers and web professionals to step up their security game but it seems as though nothing less than a mandatory standard will force a change.
Luckily, it seems that this mandated standard may happen sooner than we’d think.
Google to the rescue?
Back in August of last year, Google announced an update to their search algorithm that included HTTPS as a ranking factor for search results. This change made it so that any HTTPS encrypted website would rank slightly higher in 1% of organic results.
While this change didn’t have a huge SEO (search engine optimization) impact, it did open the door to web security elements joining the list of factors that add weight to where a website ranks.
But really, SSL encryption should already be an online standard because…
Sensitive data is…sensitive!
It doesn’t matter whether you are storing a user’s name, address, e-mail address, credit card information, or something even more personal – all data communicated via your website or web service should be considered sensitive and worthy of protecting.
Think about it: something as innocent as an IP address and a name can be enough for someone to determine the whereabouts of an individual. It happens every day, and it can happen to anyone. Do you really want to find yourself having made it easy for a nefarious party to gain access to this kind of information?
By securing your website with an SSL Certificate and other basic encryption methods, you can help protect data from being obtained illegitimately.
Authentication prevents the possibility of connection falsehoods
Deploying an SSL Certificate on your website or web application is not only great for encrypting data for transferring from one location to another, but also to ensure that the end location for that data is legitimate.
Data transfers performed via the internet are done in an indirect manner, often traveling through multiple servers, computers, and other network communication devices. Authentication can help your users (and services) identify the recipient of their sensitive data.
It is required for PCI compliance
If you’re looking to do business online with an e-Commerce system or some other form of multi-step transaction that collects credit card data, you’ll need an SSL Certificate to be PCI compliant. This is important to know, because many online payment services won’t operate on a website that isn’t protected.
SSL Certificates protect your users from phishing
Oftentimes criminals seeking to impersonate your website will resort to distributing e-mails that link to a visual duplicate of your website – except it isn’t your website.
By encrypting your website or web application communications with an SSL Certificate you can help your users identify that your website is not an imposter.
(And depending on the level of SSL encryption, you can make this visual identification much easier.)
Basic security measures instill trust in your brand
As a customer, you expect a company to work hard to deliver the best product or service, in a way that is both safe and reliable.
This basic expectation is what makes it so easy to trust your bank to keep your data safe when doing online banking, or trust that big e-Commerce website with your credit card credentials when making a purchase. And usually things work out, and trust can be built up, assuming that the business is working hard to protect your data and do what they do best.
Google values HTTPS encryption
As we stated before, Google currently values HTTPS encryption as an element affecting your website’s overall search engine optimization ranking. While this effect is incredibly tiny, it proves that providing basic website security is something worthy of looking into for the long-term success of your website or web application.
SSL Certificates are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain
There are a number of trusted SSL Certificate providers that offer inexpensive options for encrypting your websites and web applications, such as: GoDaddy, GeoTrust, Commodo, RapidSSL, and DigiCert.
Typical options include: Organizationally Validated SSL Certificates, Domain Validated SSL Certificates, and Extended Validation SSL Certificates.
Each type offers a different level of encryption and security, and are available at most providers following a vetting process. The vetting process usually takes 30 days and requires you tovalidate the authenticity of your website or web application, and your ownership of it.
Make sure your SSL Certificates work 24/7
SSL Certificates are a powerful tool for protecting sensitive data online, but they aren’t foolproof, or something that you can simply purchase, set, and forget. Like any security measure, they require constant monitoring and maintenance to maintain maximum effect.
With Uptrends Website Monitoring you can monitor your SSL Certificate uptime and availability around-the-clock, protecting it from expiration, hacks, and an improper configuration.
Try it free for 30-days, risk-free, with no credit card required. If you don’t love it (which we know you will), simply let the trial expire. It’s that easy!