How To

SSL: A Symbol of Safety and Protection for Your Website

With all this negative publicity about website safety and internet security, having highly visible signs that your website is a trusted place to do business is critical.

These symbols are already available, along with some very advanced technology that provides encryption security for all information, both personal and financial, that the consumer chooses to share.

While some businesses, in particular those without a primary focus on ecommerce, may question the ROI (return on investment) of SSL technology, there is really a lot more to consider.

To understand why SSL/TLS certificates should be a priority for any business with any online commerce activity, consider the experience from the consumer’s point of view.

Safety and Protection

Finding Your Site
What you may not be aware of is the slight change in the search engine algorithm, particularly with regards with regards to the use of Secure Sockets Layer technology and how it impacts search engine rankings.

Google has recently included the presence of SSL on a website to create a positive and slight upward bump in rankings. This means that if an online shopper uses the Google search engine to search for a product you sell, your website will be seen above another similar site that doesn’t use the technology.

Of course, there are many other factors that also go into search engine rankings and search result order. However, missing out on adding the security may end up in your site dropping below similar sites, something that is never a good thing for any online or brick-and-mortar business.

Savvy Consumers
The smart online shopper is aware of the risk of cyber security attacks to their personal and financial information when shopping online. They know to look for the iconic padlock in the left corner of the address bar in front of the website URL.

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This is a readily visible sign that the website is using some level of SSL technology that encrypts the data the consumer is providing. The padlock is one of the most iconic symbols of internet security and there has been a consistent effort by ecommerce sites to market this technology and make online consumers aware of the safety features it provides with regards to data encryption.

In addition, and more recently, the EV SSL certificate has become available. This is a specialized type of advanced verification process available to businesses, government agencies and other qualifying entities.

The identification of this type of enhanced verification is easy to spot. In most browsers, the entire address bar becomes a lighter green color. This stands out immediately to the consumer.

The same padlock will also be present to the front of the URL, but to the left of the padlock, which will also be green, is the legal name of the entity that owns the website as well as the name of the Certificate Authority granting the certificate. These two will alternate, providing clear identification of the legal entity owning the website, which may or may not be listed in the URL, as well as the name of the Certificate Authority.

Site Seals
Another clear visual of website safety and security for consumers is a site seal. This is provided by the Certificate Authority and includes their name as well as their logo or symbol.

This can be displayed on all pages of a website or only on pages selling products or on the checkout pages or shopping cart display pages. These logos or site seals tend to be structured to “float” to the bottom left or right edges of the page as the consumer scrolls up and down, ensuring they are easily visible. It can also be set up to display at the top of the page, often directly under the address bar and in the area where the company information is displayed.

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By mousing over the site seal, at least with some of the Certificate Authority seals, a small pop-up box will appear that provides information about the certificate. This same information can also be accessed by clicking on the green padlock and then following through on the top box that indicates a secure connection. Clicking on the more information and then view certificate buttons will allow you to see everything about the online security provided by the certificate and even information about the specific period of validity for the certificate.

Most consumers are not going to go through the effort to actually see the certificate. What they do want to see on a website that is secure, provides encryption and keeps their data safe is the padlock and possibly the green address bar and site seal.

If you are starting an online business or are seeing a drop in your income and are not using SSL and https security features, it is time to get started. There are even free trials of these certificates you can use for up to 90 days from some Certificate Authorities, allowing you to get a chance to see the difference in consumer confidence through your website.

Vivek Ram is a Technical Blog Writer from Comodo. He writes about information security, focusing on web security, operating system security and endpoint protection systems.

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