Many of us are trained not to enter credit card information or other sensitive data into a website without checking to make sure the page is secured. Websites can be secured by SSL Certificates, which provide encryption on a page when data is processed or passed from a page. This ensures that any data entered on a page cannot get intercepted by a third party during the transmission.
SSL certificates can usually be purchased and installed by the hosting company, and once in place and configured properly, a website with a certificate will have a green lock icon in the address bar add say “secure” in most browsers. A secured site will also start with https:// instead of http:// (where the extra “s” stands for secure.)
In the past, I only recommended spending the extra cost on an SSL on websites that needed encryption, such as those with online transactions or forms that process personal information. In fact, I even wrote a detailed article on my blog about this last summer. However, recent trends and changes now have expanded the need for SSL to be on all websites, even informational websites that do not do any data processing.
The reason for this change is simple: Google. Google wants to see all websites encrypted. Google feels that websites with SSL encryption are verified by the agency providing the certificate as legitimate entities, and that makes the Internet safer. Further, most websites have forms, and Google want any data processed through a form to be encrypted, even if they are as basic as email contact forms.
Google is the creator and owner of Chrome, the Internet’s most popular web browser. Starting in July 2018, any website viewed in Chrome that is not secured by SSL will receive a warning from the browser that the website is not secure. This will no doubt scare off visitors to the website, which is precisely what Google is trying to do with this message in order to ensure that all organizations get their website pages secured.
Google also has been using SSL encryption as a factor in the search engine results ranking, and favors SSL-encrypted websites over non-encrypted websites if all else is even.
With these new changes in regards to website encryption, it’s important to ensure that you have proper SSL encryption installed on your site. SSL encryption is relatively easy to get installed, and the cost for purchasing most certificates is very reasonable and in most cases ranges from free (i.e. included free in a hosting package) to $150 per year (and can depend on the type of certificate.) In addition, it can take up to two hours of work to properly configure your website for encryption.
If your website currently lacks SSL encryption, don’t be startled if you get a message that your website is not secure, and don’t be surprised if you get complaints from people browsing your website that they see it’s not secure. We can assist you with this process and easily make the transition for you, to ensure your website is up to date and using the proper security protocols that are going to become a browsing standard.
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