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SSL for Your Online Store

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Web Hosting Geek

E-commerce has taken off for one reason: it gives millions of people the opportunity to generate consistent streams of income online.  However, making money with E-commerce is virtually impossible when shoppers do not feel safe doing business on your website.  This is why it’s extremely important to make sure your site is secure and armed with SSL.

What is SSL?

Secure Sockets Layer or SSL, was introduced in 1994 and has been declared as the standard for securing E-commerce transactions.  SSL is a protocol that encrypts credit card numbers and other sensitive information by scrambling the data so it can not be accessed by eavesdroppers.  More than likely, you have visited a few sites protected with SSL encryption as it is typically indicated by a URL that starts with HTTPS opposed to HTTP and a padlock icon located on the top or bottom of the web page.  SSL works with a browser such as Firefox, encrypting the online transaction with 40-bit or 128-bit algorithms.  However, a browser can’t fully secure these transactions on its own so you must do your part as a business owner.

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SSL Certificates

As the administrator of an E-commerce site, one of the most powerful security tools in your arsenal is an SSL certificate.  This mechanism lies on a secure server with the sole purpose of encrypting data and identifying you as the owner of a legitimate website.  The SSL certificate will tell potential customers who the certificate holder is along with the name of the CA (Certificate Authority) and the country it was issued in.

SSL certificates generally come with 40-bit or 128-bit encryption schemes.  Because the 40-bit variation has been proven as vulnerable, you should certainly invest all of your efforts in a 128-bit certificate.  While there are many ways to go about obtaining this level of encryption, VeriSign, a leading SSL certificate provider, reports that one needs a server-grade cryptography certificate in order to enjoy full 128-bit protection.

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There are essentially two ways to get a valid SSL certificate: purchase one from a legitimate Certificate Authority or self-sign it yourself.  Though self-signing saves you the time and money of using a reputable vendor, it actually defeats the purpose of having such a mechanism in the first place.  While the data may be actually encrypted, a self-signed SSL certificate could also trigger a warning in the consumer’s browser, indicating that it isn’t recognized as legitimate.

Even though some people feel comfortable on certain sites and proceed anyway, several more click away as fast as they can.

It’s no secret that a website that establishes trust and security is more likely to profit than one that doesn’t.  Recent studies conducted by Verisign reveal that easily identifiable SSL certificates have a direct impact on increased internet sales.  The research found that fewer shopping carts are abandoned when consumers feel more comfortable with certificates that appear to be in good standings.

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The internet is all about anonymity and if you can’t prove who you say you are, it will be hard to establish trust with your visitors.  With SSL encryption you can ensure integrity and the security of your online transactions.  As scams and other exploits are a common thing, SSL has become a tool you simply can’t do without.


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