How SSL protects your client data and site traffic
4 April 2018
By Elizabeth Wood
The term Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) has quickly become a top of mind issue when it comes to websites. But with the sudden and widespread adoption of SSL certificates against decades of never needing one, it’s easy to be dubious about what SSL actually brings to the table. Surely, if we’ve survived this long without SSL, we can continue to function without it, right? Not quite. The reality is that internet security standards are changing, and if you don’t evolve with them, you’ll get left behind. Here are three reasons why SSL is more than just a buzzword for your investor relations and corporate websites.
1. Establishing authentication and trust
Not just anyone can slap an SSL certificate on a website and call it secure. The first step is to submit company information to a Certificate Authority, whose sole duty is to investigate its accuracy. Only after your details check out, they’ll issue you a certificate.
As SSL certificates become increasingly widespread, the idea is that not having one will be an immediate red flag to visitors. The intent is to protect visitors, as well as legitimate sites like yours, from mimic sites phishing to capture personal information for malicious purposes.
2. Keeping client personal data private
When an SSL certificate is installed, both a public and a private key are issued. The public key flags sites as “secure,” prompting the browser to encrypt any data input by the user. Encryption is the method of encoding information into an unreadable format, before being transmitted across the internet. It ensures that if data falls into the wrong hands, it can’t be used for suspect reasons. The private key is then converted by the destination server to decrypt the data when it’s received.
This SSL feature is obviously critical for e-commerce websites, or any website collecting personal information. So why is this a necessity for IR websites? At first glance, this may sound like an unnecessary precaution. After all, users browsing IR sites are unlikely to be submitting any sensitive information (like credit card details). But it’s actually critical to consider the input of any and all visitor information on your website, including login details, contact forms, email sign-ups, and even the search bar. Passed from computer to computer until it reaches the destination server, this kind of data is vulnerable to all sorts of interception along the way. Enabling encryption with the installation of an SSL certificate is a quick and easy solution to protect the privacy of investors’ personal details.
3. Ensuring visitor accessibility to your website
Back in 2017, Google announced some changes to their security policy with the goal of driving ubiquitous web security. One aspect of this campaign was to flag any websites without an SSL certificate as “not secure.” Since that announcement, SSL has become not only a best practice for the web but a universal security standard.
While sites without a certificate were previously flagged only by a tiny icon found in the address bar, Google has since upped the ante by indexing HTTPS versions of sites — even if there is no certificate installed. This means that anyone, navigating from Google Search to a site without an SSL certificate, will be met with an off-putting full-screen error message that reads “Your connection is not private.”
Google has also announced plans to prioritize secure sites in their search rankings, meaning that failure to comply could directly and adversely affect SEO. These measures have already been in play since early 2018, and will undoubtedly intensify as Google continues its security initiatives.
Essentially, installing an SSL certificate on your website is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to establish a level of trust and professionalism with your investors, protect your website from security breaches, and even improve your search result rankings. Not only will you avoid losing visitors trying to access your site, first and foremost, you’ll safeguard the data of your prospects and clients.
Elizabeth Wood is Q4’s Team Lead for Web Support and enjoys writing about issues dedicated to client services.