What does a SSL Certificate mean? – Secure Sockets Layer

This article explains what SSL is like you were a complete tech/IT novice. The reason I’ve decided to answer this question is because as of 2013 a lot of small business owners are toying around with the idea of getting their websites SSL compliant.

SSL expanded is Secure Sockets Layer. Its rather simple. Lets start with who needs SSL. A lot of small business websites offer use e-commerce to route payments for purchases made online through their website. This requires the website user to enter credit card and other sensitive information that could lead to potential identity fraud and loss of money. Why does this happen? When an end user enters credit card information on his computer screen and hits submit, that information is transmitted to the server where the requesting website is hosted. To get to that server, the information may pass through many servers because of the physical distance between both the parties. Sometimes, this information gets intercepted and misused somewhere in the middle. An SSL certification ensures that the information entered by the user is transmitted encrypted only for the destination server. Every server it passes through in the middle, may not be able to process what’s being transmitted.

So, long story short, every small business owner looking to make his site a little more reputed and offer some added security to customers should consider getting an SSL certificate. They’ve become fairly reasonable nowadays, are offered in various tiers and are easy to install.

Now, who does NOT need an SSL certificate and this is important to address because there’s no point getting one when you outright ‘Don’t need it.’ A site that does not collect any personal or sensitive information whatsoever from its users like credit card numbers, addresses, family names, phone numbers etc. does not need an SSL certificate or rather it will not add any practical value to the website.

There is talk about an SSL certificate reportedly improving SEO scores, but there’s nothing on the web that talks of concrete results on that front.

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