What is an SSL Certificate, and Why Does My WordPress Website Need One?

by | Sep 26, 2017 | Blog, Security, WordPress | 0 comments

Over the last couple of years, you might have noticed people starting to talk more about SSL Certificates and HTTPS. Here at Hog the Web, one of our top priorities is website security, so we’ve been keeping a close eye on this conversation, but for those of us new to the topic of site security on the web, let’s try to pull back the curtain on this a bit.

 

What is an SSL Certificate?

First of all, what does SSL even mean? SSL is an abbreviation for Secure Socket Layer, and your SSL Certificate is the technology that, essentially, keeps your users’ personal information safe by encrypting all data moving back and forth from your site (Credit Card numbers, addresses, login info, etc.).

Why is it important to have an SSL Certificate?

As mentioned above, it’s a matter of protecting your customers’ sensitive data. With the internet being what it is, you want to make sure that no one can listen in on the traffic of your site. Additionally, having an up-to-date SSL Certificate promotes a sense of trust with your users. If users know that your site is secure, they’re more likely to spend time, and money, on your platform.

So HTTPS…?

Basically, HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, means that an SSL Certificate is implemented on your site. HTTPS = Secure. HTTP = Not so much.

While installing an SSL Certificate is easy, migrating your website from HTTP to HTTPS is more involved, and generally requires the assistance of a web developer to accomplish.

How do users know my WordPress website is secure?

First, users can see that your site address starts with https://. Second, Google.

We know that Google was considering ways to make it very clear to users whether or not a site they visited was secure at least as early as 2014. However, it wasn’t until 2016, and even more so now in 2017, that Google really started to use its influence to push sites all over the web toward full-on site encryption through HTTPS/SSL Certificates.

 

 

 

 

One of the main ways they’ve done this is via the address bar in Google Chrome. Before the beginning of the web address in your browser, you may have noticed on some sites the notation “Secure” with a little lock in front of it. This is Google’s way of visually demonstrating to users that the site they are visiting is secure, and perhaps more importantly, that their information is secure being shared on this site. Since Google implemented this change in Chrome, other browsers have gotten on board, and now users can see whether or not a site they visit is secure even if they’re not using Chrome.

Beyond using their influence through Google Chrome, Google is also encouraging sites to move towards encryption by making secure sites show up higher in the search engine optimization (SEO) results.

This pressure from Google might feel a little overbearing, but the goal is to promote a safer and more secure internet overall. A safer internet is good for all users, and what’s good for users is good for business.

Hopefully this helped clear up some of your questions concerning SSL Certificates and HTTPS! In a future post, we’ll go over how to implement an SSL Certificate, and migrate your WordPress website to HTTPS. If you have any questions about the process described above, check out our page on SSL/HTTPS Implementation.