5 Ways SSL Certificates Improve Your Business
Due to increasing awareness of cybercrimes and trends that suggest online users avoid websites displaying insecure connection warnings, market researchers project the certificate authority market to double from $57 million in 2017 to $114 million in 2024
Ever wondered why some websites have a padlock while others have “Not Secure” warnings in red, written all over it? The difference lies in the type of connection each of these websites establish with their backend web server. The ones with the security warnings use an unencrypted, insecure channel. On the contrary, those with the little padlock in the address bar use an SSL/TLS certificate to establish an encrypted communication channel while talking to their corresponding server.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll try to answer questions like “why is SSL/TLS certificate one of the most influential factors for website security?” or “can SSL/TLS certificates help you to build trust with your online customers?”
Top 5 Advantages of Using an SSL/TLS Certificate for Your Website
There are several benefits of securing your communication channel, particularly if you’re sharing personal data, user credentials, or any sensitive information. Though there are limitations to the level of security installing a digital certificate brings your way (no, they don’t make you anonymous!), it gets you started in the right direction with regards to website security. Let’s dive into the top five ways in which using a digital certificate can improve your business!
1. Encrypt sensitive data and prevent data tampering
Encryption refers to the scrambling of data after running it through an encryption algorithm. This garbled data (aka ciphertext), in an unreadable form, is then transmitted to the web server. Even if an attacker is eavesdropping on the connection, they won’t be able to make sense of the data without its corresponding decryption key. Besides ensuring the confidentiality of the conversation between the client browser and the server, encryption also preserves message integrity and prevents data tampering. Regardless of the type of digital certificate you use, all certificate authorities (CAs) provide an identical level of encryption. For instance, Sectigo offers an encryption strength of up to SHA-256 bit, with an RSA 2048-bit signature key.
2. Build trust in your online customers
Landing on a website displaying a security warning can not only drop your conversion rates, but your brand reputation might also take a hit. By installing an SSL/TLS certificate, you can eliminate the “Insecure Connection” warning message and leverage other visual indicators of trust. These include the padlock symbol in the address bar and a site seal. With the shift towards an encrypted web, a digital certificate is a must, and it communicates that you care about your customers’ security needs while adding to your business credibility and brand reputation.
3. Boost your Google rankings to drive traffic
HTTPS has been used as a ranking signal since 2014. Using a digital certificate will help you gain visibility on a search engine, leading to more traffic generation on your page. Don’t expect a significant impact because most websites these days are HTTPS-enabled. However, if SEO rankings are a concern, be prepared that going without a certificate will cause your rankings to drop.
4. Authenticate your website’s identity
How can you be sure that the website you’re talking to is genuine and not merely impersonating another legitimate site? Identity verification is a prominent aspect of using an SSL/TLS certificate. These certificates are issued by trusted third party CA who depending on the level of validation you select, will perform a verification of your business identity. There are three validation levels – domain validation (DV), organization validation (OV), and extended validation (OV). Of all the three, EV certificates have the most intensive vetting process, while DV certificates undergo the least rigorous validation. For any website, you can view this information by clicking on the padlock and viewing the certificate details.
5. Comply with PCI DSS requirements
Depending on the country where your business is registered and the kind of data you collect, store, process, or transmit, installing an SSL/TLS might be a mandatory compliance requirement, especially if you process card payments. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) recommends using TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.3 to protect cardholder data in transit.
It would be incomplete to conclude without addressing whether you should opt for a paid SSL certificate from a trusted external CA or a free one from an authority like Let’s Encrypt. Both options offer the same level of encryption, but free SSL certificates come with no warranty or customer support. Additionally, they come with a validity period of 90 days (even with automatic renewals you may run into errors), offer only domain validated certificates, and impose limits on failed validation, issuance rate, etc. But because these certificates come at zero cost, that is a huge benefit, particularly if the alternative is to go without any kind of encryption at all. However, if the cost isn’t the only factor, consider looking at some other affordable options which come with the benefits of customer support, warranty, and site seals, to name a few.