What is an SSL Certificate?
Known formally as Secure Sockets Layer, SSL is an encryption technology designed to enhance the security of data exchanged between web servers and browsers.
First, we must understand that SSL may also be referred to as TLS, short for Transport Layer Security protocol. These are not two different technologies, but rather TLS is an updated, more secure version of SSL.
However, the term SSL is more commonly used in everyday language.
SSL certificates are a cornerstone of internet safety. They provide assurance about the identity of the website with which users are communicating.
This assurance fosters trust and confidence, both crucial elements for any online transaction or exchange of information. Conversely, websites without SSL may lose customers’ trust, resulting in a loss of potential business.
How Does SSL Work?
When SSL is enabled on a website, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) in the website’s URL is replaced with HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure).
This minor but vital change is an indicator of enhanced security. Websites using SSL display a padlock icon in the address bar, another visual cue of the secure nature of the site.
Web browsers like Google Chrome label non-SSL websites as “Not Secure,” warning users of potential security risks.
Under the hood, SSL encrypts the data exchanged between the web server and a visitor’s browser. This encryption keeps the information secure, protecting it from potential threats and attacks.
This is achieved using a public key to encrypt data, which is then decrypted using both the public and private keys. This dual key system ensures that only the intended recipient can decrypt the data, thereby maintaining its confidentiality and integrity.
The Importance of Correct and Valid SSL Certificates
An SSL certificate is akin to a passport in the world of internet data. It identifies the site and assures the user that they are in the right place.
However, these certificates aren’t eternal and need to be periodically renewed. When a browser encounters an outdated or incorrect certificate, it issues a warning, notifying the user that the connection isn’t private.
A correct and valid SSL certificate is, therefore, critical to maintaining trust. SSL certificates are checked by browsers for their validity and up-to-dateness.
Such attention to detail prevents unsuspecting users from sharing information with potential malicious actors, masquerading under false identities.
Acquiring and Implementing SSL
One of the critical steps in implementing SSL is acquiring a valid SSL certificate. While some hosting companies like GreenGeeks offer free SSL certificates, other methods are available to obtain a free SSL certificate for a WordPress website.
It’s important to know that browsers check SSL certificates for their validity and up-to-dateness. Incorrect or expired certificates trigger warning notifications about the connection not being private.
After purchasing or acquiring an SSL certificate, it needs to be enabled on the domain name and set up in WordPress. This setup process can be intricate, requiring careful attention to details.
Post implementation, it’s advisable to inform Google about the use of SSL. This proactive step helps avoid any potential Search Engine Optimization (SEO) issues that could affect the visibility and ranking of your website.
However, it’s worth noting that moving a WordPress site to SSL may cause unexpected issues. Such issues range from mixed content warnings to broken links, which may affect the functionality and user experience of the website.
Fortunately, comprehensive guides are available to address common SSL issues in WordPress, ensuring a smooth transition to a more secure website.
SSL’s Impact on User Trust
Among the essential aspects of a successful online platform is the trust and confidence of its users. As websites increasingly handle sensitive user information, the necessity of ensuring data security escalates.
SSL provides that trust by creating an encrypted connection thus making it more challenging for third parties to access the information being exchanged.
With SSL, a site is labeled with a padlock icon in the address bar, a universal sign of security online. Google Chrome, among other web browsers, even labels non-SSL websites as “Not Secure”.
This bold declaration influences the user’s perception, potentially leading to a decline in trust and, consequently, a drop in website traffic.
Potential Challenges in SSL Implementation
Despite the numerous advantages of SSL, moving a WordPress site to SSL isn’t always smooth sailing. There may be unexpected issues, such as mixed content warnings or broken links.
These can affect the user experience on the site, leading to frustration and potential loss of traffic.
Thankfully, there are extensive guides available to navigate these issues, ensuring a smooth transition to SSL. It’s crucial to note that informing Google about the shift to SSL can help avoid SEO issues, ensuring that the visibility and ranking of your website aren’t negatively impacted.