SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a type of encryption to keep your website patrons safe when inputting personal information. It will also help protect your website too. You will notice when a website is secure when you see the little padlock in the browser’s address bar at the top just to the left of the website address of the website you are looking at. Also, instead of the web address beginning with http:// it will have the additional letter s like this: https://. Google mandated that all websites use the https protocol in 2017. If you don’t Google would downgrade your website because of security risks. Not only that but some browsers loudly protest unsecure websites with warning labels. So if your website doesn’t have SSL, maybe you should look into getting it.
In the early days it was a hassle getting SSL signing certificates installed. It was very user unfriendly. However, now SSL is included with most webhosting plans. For the most part, all one has to do is click on the “Activate SSL” button in the web hosting control panel. It will activate in a few minutes. If you have had a website online for a long time and you are not using SSL (the https protocol) you might want to login into your hosting account for your website and see if you can turn it on. It may not have been available when you started your website. Please note: that going from http to https can break some links on your website. Usually what happens is your logo and some images may not load. This is because they used the entire address for their location instead of a relative address. If you are familiar with editing your website, just finding the http string and inserting and “s” will complete the link.
Sometimes when you turn on SSL you will notice that on some browsers there is an indication that the site or a particular page is not secure. That is because, for example, an image still uses the http protocol while the rest of the componants use https. It will take some hunting and pecking to sew up all the loose ends.
Many web hosting account offer SSL as part of the hosting package for free. They might be using the free Lets Encrypt software. However beware of shared SSL offers. They are offered on some hosting plans, but are not going to represent your domain of your website and these can cause some problems with some eCommerce configurations. Lets Encrypt generally just verifies your domain and nothing else. For some applications, you may need more verification that your website is trusted. These higher end SSL certificates and trust seals can cost between $50 and $300 a year ,but will show who owns the site and their contact information, of course all verified.
While it is easier to secure a website with SSL, there are some minor issue that you might find havinig an experinced web person helpful. Got an old WordPress website? Contact Site Mechanix for help.