What Is SSL? What about HTTPS? You may have heard these letters throw around or heard them while talking with a developer, but what do they actually mean?
Well, good news: it’s really not that complicated!
What Is SSL?
Simply put, SSL (or Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard technology used to keep internet connections secure and safeguard private information. It prevents criminals from reading or modifying information being transferred between two sources (such as from a website to your browser).
What Is HTTPS
See that little lock symbol next to the URL? That replaces the HTTPS (or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) you normally see at the beginning of a web address. It indicates that the URL is secure using SSL! You can even click the icon for details.
How Does SSL Work?
While you can certainly dive into a rabbit hole here and learn all about asymmetrical encryption, symmetrical encryption, and how SSL takes advantage of both. However, if you know how encryption works, you’ll get the basic idea.
Encryption is a way of scrambling data so that only those with the correct key can read it (decrypt). For example, “hello” is turned into “22hifDJGI-$” and without the proper key, you would have no way of knowing what “22hifDJGI-$” is supposed to mean.
Keys can have different sizes and the bigger they are, the harder they are to crack. However, the trade-off is that the bigger it gets, the more computing power it takes to decrypt it. The most common key size is 128 or 256 bits. So you can get an idea of how secure they are, the 128-bit key has (deep breath) 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 encryption code possibilities.
The most common form of cyber-attack (due to its simplicity) is called a brute-force attack, where a hacker runs a program that simply tries a large number of passwords, codes, and phrases to crack a password or encryption. However, as you can tell by the very large number above, a brute-force attack would take quite a long time to crack.
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Why Your Website Needs SSL
If it wasn’t obvious already, SSL is incredibly important for several reasons:
We’ve gone over how secure SSL is, so we won’t spend much time drilling in the point, but it protects data, affirms identity, and maximizes privacy.
Google Loves It
If you want your website to rank high on Google and make all the effort you’re putting into Search Engine Optimization to matter, you really need your website to use SSL. If it doesn’t, it’s all basically a wasted effort.
It Builds Trust
As of 2018, any website that does not have SSL gives a warning message of “Note Secure” on the URL bar if the user is visiting from the most popular web browsers. While some customers might not care, many will quickly abandon a website that is unsecure, especially those which deal with any private information.
SSL is a crucial piece of the website pie and not using it can make or break the success of the site, and in turn, the success of your business. For now, a warning message is detrimental enough, but there’s no telling if Google will block non-SSL sites entirely sometime in the future.
Better to just make sure your site has it now.