Should I Use SSL?

use-ssl-for-security

use-ssl-for-securityYes! SSL is a protocol used to provide security over the Internet. It is a good idea to use a security certificate whenever you are passing personal information between the website and web server or database. Hackers could sniff for this information, and if the communication medium is not secure, they could capture it and use this information to gain access to user accounts and personal data.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client-typically a web server (website) and a browser; or a mail server and a mail client (e.g., Outlook). SSL allows sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and login credentials to be transmitted securely. Normally, data sent between browsers and web servers is sent in plain text-leaving you vulnerable to eavesdropping. If an attacker is able to intercept all data being sent between a browser and a web server they can see and use that information.

More specifically, SSL is a security protocol. Protocols describe how algorithms should be used; in this case, the SSL protocol determines variables of the encryption for both the link and the data being transmitted. SSL secures millions of peoples’ data on the Internet every day, especially during online transactions or when transmitting confidential information. Internet users have come to associate their online security with the lock icon that comes with an SSL-secured website or green address bar that comes with an extended validation SSL-secured website. SSL-secured websites also begin with https rather than http.

 

Further, there is a push by Google to see sites move from HTTP to HTTPS. Google has incorporated this as a metric in their search ranking. All other things equal, HTTPS sites rank higher than HTTP sites in the Google search listings. We can expect the other search engines to follow suit, if they have not already. So, another reason to use SSL.

 

A good resource to test your SSL certificate and SSL server is the Qualys SSL Labs SSL Server Test. Another excellent SSL-related resource is Why No Padlock: a simple tool which will reveal any insecure items on your SSL page. Both of these tools will detect issues which may impact your ranking in Google, and more importantly in the case of commercial sites, hinder sales: people generally are worried (and for very good reason) about purchasing online from unsecure websites. So, use SSL for security, and use SSL securely.

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