When running a small business online, it’s important to follow all the recommended security protocols. A secure website doesn’t just keep your computer safe; it’ll also sway potential customers into clicking and interacting with your business. A basic but sometimes overlooked security measure is the SSL certificate. Here’s what they are and why you should get one for your website.
Why You Need An SSL Certificate
By now, you should be well aware that most links start with http://. This is the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, one of the foundational technologies that allowed information to be spread online. However, the best sites don’t have HTTP – they have HTTPS. That extra letter shows that the website is TLS/SSL encrypted and as a result, has much better security.
Any popular website, along with websites that handle data or money, should have an SSL certificate that gives them this advanced security. This is especially true for websites that handle both, like online banking or iGaming spaces. Every successful online casino has a secure HTTPS connection because they cater to a lot of people, each sharing sensitive data and financial information with the site. They host hundreds of slot games all at once, each with a different theme that appeals to wide audiences. Every time somebody plays with them, a connection is created. This means they take security seriously; for them, having an SSL certificate is just the start, but entrepreneurs new to the internet can learn from their example.
SSL certificates encrypt the connection between a website and its users. This stops man-in-the-middle breaches where the data can get snatched or copied while in transit to or from the website. Fortunately for you, the process of acquiring an SSL certificate is easy and inexpensive. We’ve outlined the process below.
Getting Your SSL Certificate
To get started, you need to have a website with all your information in order. This means your IP address is unique. SSL protocols work with one IP address only, so you need to have your own! Along with the IP, you’ll need your WHOIS record to be clean. This is a webmaster database showing registered owners of domains. If the information is outdated, you’ll need to update it first.
Depending on the scope of your business, you may need to have your business on government records. Sometimes those who manage SSL certificates – the Certificate Authorities – will ping government databases to validate that you are a legitimate business.
For most businesses, a simple single-domain validation will suffice. However, an extended validation is best for sites that handle transactions. Then you need to create a certificate signing request file (CSR) on your web server. This process changes between web hosts – contact them for more details.
Once generated, sign up to whichever authority you have chosen. There are many, with Comodo, DigiCert, and GoDaddy being the most popular. After signing, they’ll request the CSR and then validate it after some time. Simpler certificates are faster to obtain since there are fewer hoops to jump through on their end.
Lastly, all that’s left is to install and test the SSL certificate to make sure it’s working. You may see SSL certificates called TLS but don’t panic – this is because SSL is a colloquialism and modern certificates use a better protocol. You’ll receive an email prompting you to download the certificate, at which point you can install it on your web server. Again, you may need to contact your web host – most of them will have done this before for their clients.
After installation, you should test the certificate regularly through publicly available verification tools. Most of the work is done now, and you should have HTTPS as part of your URL. In most browsers, it’s represented by a padlock that shows your website is extra secure.