If you own a website, even a simple one, you’re facing whether an SSL certificate is necessary. As you tally up your expenses, you might be tempted to forgo adding yet another cost to the list. However, before you make that decision, consider the consequences of not having an SSL certificate.
If your website serves your business, safeguarding the data your customers entrust to you should be your top priority. Without an SSL certificate, your website exposes significant security vulnerabilities and other risks. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered in this blog post.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is an SSL?
- 2 What Is an SSL Certificate?
- 3 So, What Happens if You Do Not Use an SSL Certificate?
- 4 Still Not Convinced You Need an SSL Certificate?
- 5 Secure Your Site Now
What Is an SSL?
Before 1999, SSL held the position of being the premier standard for internet communications. SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is a technology designed to ensure the security of internet connections. It safeguards the exchange of sensitive data between two systems, effectively preventing cyber criminals from tampering with this information. SSL employs encryption algorithms that scramble data while in transit, rendering it unreadable to hackers. These systems can be utilized in various scenarios, such as server-to-client interactions between an e-commerce website and a customer or between a cloud service and a printer server.
What Is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate serves as an online verification, affirming a website’s identity and enabling a secure connection between a web server and a web browser. Companies need to incorporate such certificates into their websites to safeguard customer information.
Developers typically install these certificates on the server side, but website visitors can identify secure sites through visual indicators. Pay attention to the following cues:
A website with an HTTPS address, rather than HTTP, has an SSL certificate.
Look for a padlock icon next to the website’s name. Clicking on it will reveal the message “Connection is secure.” This symbol signifies that the company guarantees the integrity of the link between the sites, ensuring that no one can intercept or alter the communication. If the site is insecure, you will see a warning symbol before the address.
Your antivirus software will often block access to unsecured websites. It typically raises red flags for sites lacking SSL certificates or expired certificates.
Legitimate brands rarely make spelling or grammatical errors in their domain names. Be cautious of websites with such errors, as cybercriminals may attempt to breach security protocols, such as trying to deceive users with a domain like “amaz0n.com” to steal data.
So, What Happens if You Do Not Use an SSL Certificate?
If you still need to decide the purpose of SSL, allow us to provide further clarification. We want to emphasize the significance of having an SSL certificate for your website and provide you with ample reasons.
Are there consequences for neglecting to employ an SSL certificate? Absolutely, and we’ll explore some of them right now.
1. Major Browsers Distrust Your Website (Rank & Reputation)
In 2014, Google, one of the world’s most widely used search engines, incorporated SSL certificates as a ranking factor. It implies that your website needs an SSL certificate to fare well in terms of high-ranking search results.
Moreover, since 2017, Google has tagged all websites that collect personal or sensitive data without an SSL certificate as ‘Not Secure.’ You can observe this label in your browser’s address bar, especially in browsers like Chrome.
If your SSL certificate expires without renewal, Google will apply the same ‘Not Secure’ label to your website. Since 2018, they have marked all websites, regardless of data collection practices, as ‘Not Secure’ if they lack SSL certificates. These unsecured websites are easily recognizable as they display a red label in the address bar. You will receive a warning pop-up when you attempt to visit such a site without an SSL certificate.
2. Non-Compliance Issues
In addition to the scrutiny from major search engines like Google, websites can face compliance issues with other significant regulatory bodies. These organizations have also instituted requirements for SSL certificates, particularly for websites handling sensitive information, such as credit card data.
For instance, consider the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, commonly called PCI SSC. This entity oversees data security standards (PCI DSS) to guarantee robust security for users engaged in credit card transactions. It ensures that the collection, storage, processing, and transmission of credit card details for online shoppers are carried out securely. Compliance with PCI DSS standards is mandatory if your website conducts credit card transactions.
3. Data Leaks
As previously explained, an SSL certificate offers additional security for both your website and your customers. Nevertheless, a significant worry for numerous online shoppers is the potential compromise of their data.
Despite an uptick in cyber awareness among online consumers, many individuals still need to learn how to safeguard themselves against cyber threats. Thankfully, search engines issue warnings when a website is deemed unsafe to shield users from potential risks.
4. Phishing Attacks
Phishing is a deceptive method involving emails that mimic messages from reputable companies, aiming to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information such as passwords and credit card details.
Without the protection of an SSL certificate on your website, it becomes vulnerable to phishing attacks. This vulnerability arises because your users find it challenging to identify whether a phishing website impersonating your site is genuine or fake. An SSL certificate is a mark of authenticity, reassuring users that your website is legitimate. You can identify this assurance by looking for “HTTPS” or a padlock symbol in the address bar, like verifying a tick mark on Instagram to confirm a page’s authenticity.
5. Damage to the Reputation of Your Business
Owning a business website means safeguarding your brand’s reputation. Your brand tells a story through its actions and the content it presents. Failure to comply with safety standards, such as maintaining an up-to-date SSL certificate, can break trust among your site visitors. This loss of trust can result in customer attrition and harm your company’s standing, with tangible repercussions, most notably in revenue loss. It’s essential to remember that recovering from a tarnished reputation is often challenging.
Related: SSL vs TLS: The Key Differences
Still Not Convinced You Need an SSL Certificate?
If, for any reason, you remain unconvinced about the necessity of having an SSL certificate for your website and the question of why it’s essential still lingers, let’s underscore some of our key points to provide a more compelling case.
By obtaining an SSL certificate, you receive:
1. Higher Site Ranking
An SSL certificate can help your website’s ranking. In such a scenario, it becomes exceedingly challenging for your customers to access your website, especially considering many users rarely venture beyond the first page of search engine results.
2. Your Website Can Be Trusted
Without an SSL certificate, major web browsers will not trust your website. As mentioned previously, prominent search engines like Google penalize your site by lowering its search engine ranking.
3. Your Site Is Labelled Secure
Without an SSL certificate, your website will be marked as “Not Secure” in the address bar, displayed in red. Before visitors can access your site, they will encounter a warning page cautioning them about potential safety risks associated with your website.
4. You Benefit From Compliance With PCI DSS
Recall the PCI DSS. If you collect anyone’s credit card information without an SSL certificate, you’ll be deemed non-compliant and could incur penalties and substantial fines. This non-compliance may also result in being labelled as non-compliant by other industry regulations.
5. You Get an Extra Layer of Security From Cybercriminals
Operating without an SSL certificate creates an open invitation for cybercriminals to exploit your vulnerabilities. Without an SSL certificate, criminals can easily target your website and steal your customers’ personal information, eroding trust and diminishing your return on investment (ROI).
Secure Your Site Now
From safeguarding your visitors to enhancing domain security and achieving PCI DSS compliance, implementing a security certificate for your website is among the most effective strategies to elevate your business. It represents one of the finest investments to distinguish yourself in a crowded market.
Here at AEserver, we assist clients in elevating their websites with our award-winning hosting and SSL services. Are you prepared to amplify your digital leads, conversions, and revenue streams? Reach out to our expert team today to begin your journey toward growth.