SSL For Your E-commerce Site

With credit card fraud and identify theft on the rise, consumers are more cautious than ever about shopping online.  If you are running a store online, this means that potential customers are more reluctant to buy products and services from your site.  In order to boost consumer confidence and make them feel safe, you need a reliable security mechanism that keeps their personal information secure.  What you need is an SSL certificate.

What is an SSL Certificate?

Secure Sockets Layer or SSL, is a security protocol that enables encrypted communications between the customer’s web browser and the server your store is hosted on.  This is accomplished by what is known as a handshake, a process where the server’s identity is confirmed and a secure connection created.  SSL typically offers 128-bit encryption, formulated by an algorithm which generates a key that is virtually impossible to crack.  An SSL certificate shows that your site is secure and safe for shopping.

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How to Get a Certificate

SSL certificates are offered by entities known as Certificate Authorities, with the most popular being GoeTrust, Thawte and Verisign.  For the most part, these authorities provide certificates that give you the same level of security.  A single certificate can encrypt the data traveling between the server and each of your customers’ web browsers.  The average online storefront can get adequate protection from a basic SSL certificate.  You also have the option to purchase additional services to strengthen the level of security.

Installing the Certificate

Although many web hosting providers offer SSL certificates as add-on products, you typically have the freedom to incorporate one purchased from a third-party vendor as well.  In most cases, you can learn how your SSL certificate is to be installed via the instructions in the control panel software or by contacting the host’s technical support department.  Some of the most advanced control panels even allow you to incorporate an SSL certificate directly from the interface.  Once installed, the certificate is automatically enabled.  You will know it is activated when noticing “HTTPS” in front your URL rather than “HTTP”.

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Designing for SSL

The design of your site is very important when implementing an SSL certificate.  In order for your web pages to be viewed as secure, all scripts, graphics and media elements must be deemed secure as well.  You have probably visited web sites where a warning displays stating that some of the elements of a particular page are not secure.  These messages are prompted when external elements of a web page are not called using the HTTPS protocol.  In many cases, the certificate is valid and secure but the page isn’t designed properly for SSL.  All the external elements of your page must be called using links that include the full URL.  One simple graphic that doesn’t use HTTPS will generate a “not secure” error.

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Conscious online shoppers are increasingly looking for SSL certificates and if you don’t have one, you are missing out on a lot of business.  You can have some of the most beneficial products online but if no one feels safe buying them, they will hesitate to proceed with the transaction.

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