How to Get an SSL Certificate for Your Website (and Why You Need One in the First Place)

February 25, 2021 in Website Security

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, or what audience you cater to, you need make people feel safe while visiting and engaging with your website. To do that, you’ll need to obtain a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. Having an SSL certificate is one of many signs that your website is secure, especially if users conduct financial transactions or exchange other sensitive data on your site.

What Does An SSL Do For My Website?

An SSL certificate encrypts any data entered into your website until it reaches its destination, where it is then decrypted and processed. Encrypting this data secures it against an attack such as a ‘Man In The Middle’ attack, where that data is intercepted before it reaches its destination.

Imagine purchasing an item online. Once you hit the checkout page, you’re asked for a lot of personally identifiable information – including your name and email – as well as payment information such as your credit card number along with the CVV number for that card. Without an SSL, this sensitive information is sent without encryption and is vulnerable to a number of different attacks. With an SSL in place, an attacker would get a lot of encrypted data with no key or no means to decipher the data.

Before we delve into how to get an SSL certificate for your website, you might be wondering what other benefits an SSL certificate provides. Here are some of the most common reasons website owners investigate how to get an SSL certificate:

  • User Security – As mentioned above, the primary beneficiary of an SSL certificate is the website visitor. Whether the SSL is securing credit card data, or just ensuring that login pages are secure, the value added to your visitor’s experience is increased noticeably.
  • SEO ranking – Google can deem your site insecure, which can result in a loss of SEO rankings, and in turn a loss in potentially valuable traffic. So even if you don’t collect data from your visitors, it’s beneficial to have an SSL to help present a secure website in order to maintain a strong positive search engine presence.
  • User Confidence – Taking care to secure your website instills trust in visitors, especially those who want to initiate a financial transaction or conduct other business through your site.

Which SSL Certificate Is Right For You?

Something to keep in mind when researching how to get an SSL certificate: they aren’t a one-size-fits-all security solution. In fact, obtaining the wrong certification can be an expensive mistake as pricing ranges from free to several hundred dollars or more.

Therefore, before you delve into how to get an SSL certificate for your website, you need to figure out which type of SSL certificate you’ll require. The answer will depend on you knowing exactly what actions you want your users to be able to take when they land on your site. When researching how to get an SSL certificate, the different types of SSL certificates include:

  • Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)
  • Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL)
  • Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL)

Once you’ve determined the type of certificate your website needs, it’s time to figure out how to get an SSL certificate. Steps include:

  • Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) – A CSR is a report generated by your server with important details for the SSL (like common name and organization information).
  • Purchase an SSL for your website – You can generally partner with your webhost to get an SSL, or you can go directly to a Certificate Authority (CA) like Comodo, Symantec, or Digicert.
  • Submit the CSR to the CA – Once the SSL is purchased, it needs to be issued correctly. The CSR contains the information necessary for the SSL to be issued correctly.
  • Install the SSL – Once the CA has received the CSR, they will issue the SSL certificate (which contains multiple files, typically). There are several ways to install the certificate once it has been issued, but these depend on your server and hosting environment. We recommend reviewing your host’s knowledgebase for specific install steps.

Congratulations on taking a critically important first step; researching how to get an SSL certificate. Once your SSL is in place, your users will appreciate the security the certificate provides—and your endeavors will be even more successful as a result.

If you have further questions, or you’re looking for additional tips or products, to help you secure your website, get in touch with us today.

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