What an SSL Certificate Is and Why You Need One

Setup, Web Security

SSL is an acronym that refers to Secure Sockets Layer. SSL certificates are small data files that bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details.

The reason why you’d want to bind a key to your organization is that this keeps your website’s information safe and secure through encryption.

Without SSL, people can snoop on traffic activity, including shopping details. That’s why you need SSL if handle credit card transactions.

When an SSL certificate is installed it activates that little green padlock in the top left of your navbar to let you know that a website’s connections are secure.

Do You Actually Need an SSL Certificate?

Regardless of whether you run an online store or require any sensitive information to be transmitted or not, it would still be a good idea to get one. SSL protects all information sent through it, including login information.

Besides, Google has stated that there is an SEO benefit for those who have one installed.

Side Note

These certificates are colloquially known as SSL certificates, but SSL is the inferior version. When you get a cert make sure the encryption standard is TLS 1.2 or higher.

How Do You Get SSL certificates?

These days you can get a free certificate for general use.

If you need a branded certificate where it shows your organization’s name in the navbar or if you need a wildcard certificate, so you can have your organization’s name on all web properties you own, you’ll need to pay a premium.

Here are the 3 ways to get an SSL certificate installed on your web host:

  1. Most web hosts allow you to create your own key, completely free, through a partnership with LetsEncrypt to provide super simple SSL support for each and every one of your websites. But you’ll need to make a cert for each website and it will not display your information on the nav bar but if someone inspects it they can see the information you supply. It doesn’t have to have identifiers in it.
  2. Most web hosts also allow you to bring your own certificate that you purchase through a certificate authority (CA). They can have the organization name display like we previously mentioned, but they don’t have to so be careful and understand what exactly you’re purchasing when you go this route.
  3. Finally, you can usually purchase a certificate right from the host. This process is very fast but usually not the cheapest route.

What’s LetsEncrypt?

LetsEncrypt is an awesome website that allows everyone to get a free, automatic, secure SSL certificate. This is awesome as these things used to be cost prohibitive and difficult to set up in the past.

EVERY WEBSITE deserves fast, affordable, and dependable security that’s offered through SSL and we’re happy to know a CA like LetsEncrypt exists.