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The importance of SSL certificates for businesses

The importance of SSL certificates for businesses
The importance of SSL certificates for businesses

As of this year, there are 4.7 billion active internet users worldwide, with 1.83 billion active websites.

While websites and ecommerce stores have transformed the way consumers and commercial businesses operate, the increase in online activity has inevitably resulted in a rise in cybersecurity threats, too.

According to research, 29 percent of businesses that suffer a cybersecurity breach will lose revenue as a direct result. And this is not to mention the lasting damage in reputability and the potential costs of recovering from attacks.

However, there are precautions that businesses and online retailers can take to protect themselves and their customers.

Ben Haskey, Security and Compliance Manager at LCN.com, discusses the importance of SSL certificates to enhance your website’s security without compromising on customer experience…

What is an SSL certificate?

Have you ever wondered why your browser occasionally flashes a warning when entering personal information into a website? That’s likely because it’s not secured with an SSL certificate.

An SSL certificate is a technology that provides authentication for your website through an encrypted connection. It allows users to share personal information and data securely and privately with a web server.

You can spot if a website is protected by an SSL certificate by looking at the address bar, where it will display the ‘HTTPS’ prefix. Compared with the ‘HTTP’ prefix, the ‘S’ stands for ‘secure’ and confirms that data exchanged between servers is protected.

But it’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’. There are four types of SSL Certificates that provide benefits for different websites. 

For smaller sites, such as personal blogs, a Domain Validated SSL certificate will check the validation of the owner, while an Organisation Validation SSL is widely used by smaller businesses. This type provides additional background checks to prove the authority of the applicant. 

An Extended Validation SSL certificate is most appropriate for larger business websites and online stores, as it demands extensive background checks and adds your company name to the green padlock area in the address bar of browsers – offering extra peace of mind for users.

Lastly, the Wildcard SSL certificate is recommended for websites with multiple subdomains – for example, those that host blogs and ecommerce stores on different subdomains – and allows businesses to secure all domains with a single certificate.

Setting up an SSL certificate is fairly straightforward. Most domain and hosting providers offer SSL certificates as part of a package with other website-building essentials, although it is also possible to purchase one as a standalone product and add it to an existing set-up. 

The mutual benefits

Aside from acting as visual trust indicators, SSL certificates offer benefits for both the website host and the user.

For businesses that require clients and customers to register their personal details, SLL technology secures customer data, such as personally identifiable information, passwords, and payment details – protecting them against data theft and fraud.

According to reports, a single successful cyberattack can cost businesses $3.88 million due to the resulting pause in normal business operations, repair and recovery costs and loss of profits. 

However, SSL certificates not only deter attackers from trying their luck to begin with but also thwart attempts by encrypting the website connection. 

Ultimately, businesses that are proactive with website security can reap the rewards of both improved brand trust and repeat custom, as well as protecting their own key data and mitigating the costs associated with a malicious attack.

The value of trust for traffic

The value of trust for websites should not be overlooked, as it can boost search engine rankings, leading to increased traffic. Google has even confirmed that it prioritises sites with SSL certificates in its results.

Plus, by having an SSL certificate, users feel reassured that the website they are browsing is secure and demonstrates the business is committed to their safety online – a worry for over half of online consumers when making online payments.

That’s why they’re becoming an actively desired feature for online consumers, with 46 percent of visitors in a recent study revealing they leave sites they worry are unsecured.

Trust is key for both search engines and consumers, so by making a small investment, businesses can leverage the security features that can convert website visitors into customers. In fact, for e-Commerce sites, not having an SSL certificate can have a direct effect on revenue, with studies showing they boost conversion rates by as much as 87 percent.

However, to benefit from the increased marketing potential of brand trust, it’s not enough to just meet the minimum requirements. SSL certificates should mark the first step in a commitment to cybersecurity and user safety. 

Once successful, businesses can reap the rewards by marketing their site’s security, leading to improved reputations, brand awareness and increased revenue. This may mean adding additional authoritative ‘proof’ – including client logos, review profiles and even customer case studies or testimonials.

About the author:

Ben Haskey is Information Security Manager at LCN. His passion lies in ensuring that information security and cybersecurity adds value to our business. Before specialising in Information Security, Ben held positions in IT System Administration and Support roles before moving into various Finance positions.  His current role draws on all previous experiences in IT and Finance, understanding technical issues and commercial decisions.