Do you really need an SSL certificate on your WordPress website?

In a time when over half the world uses the web each day, security is a significant concern for most websites. Find out below what an SSL certificate is, what it can do, and what happens if you don't have one.

With the good, comes the bad.

The web offers an extraordinary way for us to connect globally and for our businesses to be reachable by anyone. Unfortunately, this connectivity also means that hackers spend a lot of time attempting to  exploit websites in an attempt to collect and hold sensitive data ransom for exorbitant fees. Keeping sites secure and protecting data requires diligent and continuous effort by website administrators.

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is usually the first place to start and allows websites to operate with a relative level of safety and security, so that business owners can manage their business with less worry of having data compromised. In this article, we discover what an SSL certificate is, how it works and why you need one for your WordPress website.

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a type of digital certificate that encrypts the data sent between a website visitor and the website. They ensure all data passed between the two parties remains private and secure. SSL certificates help to prevent attacks from hackers who are trying to steal sensitive information such as private customer data, financial data or anything else that the business would not like to be stolen or published publicly. An SSL certificate communicates to the visitor that the web host has proven ownership of the domain to a valid certificate authority.

Some sites have to gather lots of sensitive user information, like eCommerce sites, for example. These websites may hold the personal and bank account details of customers and handle the data required to process credit card transactions. It’s easy to imagine the appeal for malicious parties to hack the data transfer and get hold of this information.

They can make a lot of illegal money either from selling the information to competitors or holding it ransom and threatening to expose it publicly – which can have a huge impact on the reputation of a business. The last thing any business wants to do is explain to their customers that they have lost control of their personal and financial information.

How do SSL certificates work?

Imagine you’re sending a valuable package to your friend overseas. While the process is relatively trustworthy, you don’t really know who will come in contact with your parcel. So, you secure the package in an impenetrable box with a coded lock. Your package will now follow the same process to reach your friend, except only they can open it because they know the code.

SSL certificates work in a similar way, except digitally. They’re small data files that digitally bind a crypto key to the details entered. The web server activates the padlock and the ‘https’ feature to facilitate secure connections from a web server to a browser. In the case of an eCommerce website, it will protect the credit card transaction, data transfer, and user logins from being compromised.

Do you need an SSL certificate for your WordPress website?

SSL certificates prove that you have a secure client-to-server encryption. SSL certificates are not only recommended for websites that perform transactions, though. An SSL certificate is essential for any website, regardless of the sensitivity of the data it handles.

Many commonly used browsers have changed the way they interact with non-SSL certified websites. Some of the consequences of not having an SSL certificate include:

  • Google chrome (used by around half of all internet users) warns users with a “not secure” label to deter them from entering credit card or password details, which can be devastating to your sales.
  • Negatively affects your search engine ranking as search engines favour secure sites.
  • Hinders the trust and engagement of customers and visitors and harms your reputation.
  • Google chrome is set to expand its “not secure” label to deter users from entering any details into non-SSL certified sites, not just credit card or password details.

The security that an SSL certificate provides offers some great benefits as listed below:

  • Your visitors and customers can have greater peace of mind.
  • It makes a professional impression and enhances your reputation.
  • It improves sales and conversion rates.
  • You’re likely to rank higher on Google and other search engines.
  • It increases the trust and engagement of your visitors, now and into the future.

How to know if you already have an SSL certificate

First, if your website was either built or is being maintained by Silvercode, you’ll automatically have an SSL certificate installed on your website. If not, you can simply use the SSL Checker tool to check whether you have an SSL certificate successfully installed or not.

It’s worth noting that simply installing a certificate is sometimes not the end of the process. You may also need to configure your website’s links and media to use https instead of http links, otherwise you will receive “Mixed Content” warnings. Mixed content means that the site has a valid SSL certificate and the website is loading on an https connection, but some of the assets (such as images) on a web page are not loading securely due to still being configured to load over http. If you need some help to ensure your website is configured correctly for https, Silvercode can assist with our WordPress Website Support service.

Need help getting your website SSL secured?

Running your business can become painful when you have to learn complex web server tools and apply them correctly. Fortunately, it has never been easier to install an SSL certificate and avoid the devastation of a data breach. Silvercode provides premium, secure and fast website hosting to businesses that need highly reliable website hosting with unlimited SSL certificates included as standard.

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