The Importance of SSL Certificates

The Importance of SSL Certificates

10:21 10 December in Managed Hosting Benefits

As the holiday season progresses, it become more apparent that consumers enjoy shopping online. The practice allows individuals to find the perfect gift without leaving the comfort of their couch. Ecommerce is also doing wonders for small-business owners, as they reach new markets and audiences with either niche products or handmade goods. Even larger retailers find success when using hosted domains.

While no one should ever discount the plethora of benefits associated with managed hosting, one in particular is not cited frequently enough: Security. The year of 2014 is no stranger to data breaches, as witnessed by the incidents at The Home Depot and Target. According to PaymentsSource, the five-month long attack on The Home Depot was caused by malware-infected pay terminals which were running old point-of-sale software that had not been updated in years. The conclusion might be surprising, but it is true: Online transactions are inherently more secure than those that take place in person. Why? The answer is simple.

"SSL certificates ensure that any and all data transmitted from consumers to ecommerce businesses are protected by means of encryption."

With large volumes of data, comes great responsibility
Secure Sockets Layer certificates ensure that any and all data transmitted from consumers to ecommerce businesses are protected by encryption. Because of the way the Internet works, all information that is sent from a computer to a server can be intercepted and read. However, with an SSL certificate, that data is scrambled and can only be read with a specific decryption key. Therefore, no cybercriminals can gain access to information. Even if the data is intercepted, it is worthless. Additionally, SSL certificates provide ecommerce businesses with a layer of authentication. This guarantees that transmitted data is being sent from the correct consumer or end user and not a cybercriminal.

The bottom line is that anyone looking to start an online-based retail outlet can benefit immensely from obtaining an SSL certificate. When first looking at this cybersecurity solution, it might seem that it only protects credit card information from being stolen by cybercriminals. While that is true, SSL certifications will essentially become the backbone of any managed, hosted website.

According to Interpol, new trends in cybercrime are constantly emerging as threats to end users and organizations, which costs the global economy billions of dollars every year. Cybercriminals will take any information that they can, as consumers create login credentials and passwords that are used across various websites. So, if they find a way to collect even one credential, they could feasibly find their way into any account on a variety of websites from Facebook to Amazon. However, with an SSL certificate, all customers' personal information will stay safe as it travels from end users' machines to a managed hosted server.

Pleasing the consumer
When an ecommerce retailer implements an SSL certificate, either the address bar turns green or a lock appears depending on the Web browser in use. Additionally, the website will gain a little logo, certifying that all communications will be encrypted, and the site's address will now start with "HTTPS" instead of "HTTP." So, while SSL certificates ensure that ecommerce retailers protect their customers' information, it could impact sales and conversion rates. According to an Actual Insights survey, almost 61 percent of consumers stated that they have not purchased something because a trust logo was missing. The source also reported that approximately 75 percent of survey respondents pay attention to the URL address bar when purchasing products online. Without an SSL certification, consumers can be lead to believe that their information is not safe, resulting in short-term sales losses as well as long-term impacts on credibility.

Tech-savvy consumers check for SSL certificate logos or HTTPS in the address bar.

Furthermore, secure online shopping is a common headline during the holiday season. WGRZ reported that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman offered tips to citizens last week, informing them that they should only enter payment information online after verifying that HTTPS is visible in the address bar. Ecommerce retailers are shooting themselves in the foot by not implementing an SSL security solution.

Managed hosting and SSL
Despite SSL seeming like the best security practice to hit the Internet, there are still some concerns. For example, a recent cybersecurity threat called POODLE capitalized on old Web browsers, and cybercriminals were able to intercept SSL 3.0-encrypted communications. Information Age also reported on a Blue Coat Systems announcement that stated a lack of visibility into SSL traffic represents a weak spot in corporate security systems.

The good news is that managed hosting providers can fill that gap in security. While an average-sized ecommerce retailer might not have a full-time staff to monitor systems, the best managed hosting services have teams dedicated to protecting and managing websites. They can watch SSL traffic, and if any peculiar incidents occur, they can stop cybercriminals in their tracks, ensuring that the retailer does not become a victim and that its customers personal information is safe.