We have had a large variety of businesses ask us about making sure that the data (form submissions, credit card information, user profiles, etc.) sent through and to their website is secure. This is definitely something that you should be concerned about. More and more people through the world are using internet-based technology – about 50% of the entire world, meaning that there’s more and more people looking for conversations to eavesdrop on, or pockets to pick.
Think of a contact form, or checkout page of an e-commerce store like a conversation between people in a crowded room, or better yet, a packed subway ride. People are standing right next to you, there’s noise from the train itself, people sway back and forth, occasionally bumping into each other. This is, coincidentally, how we also like to describe Twitter. When you submit the information on the website, it’s like you’re saying those words to the person next to you, but with everyone around, other people could be listening. This is the crowded world of the internet, but on a much smaller scale.
At first thought, it seems intimidating, and almost impossible to have a private conversation online. However, this is where encryption comes in; this is why we have Secure Socket Layers (SSLs).
So, what do you do?
How do you make your conversation private again when you’re surround by so many people? By this point, you’re having to talk over the shoulder of one person who is so very close to you. You pull out your phone, and text the person. You don’t really want everyone else to listen, so a text message will do just fine, except that the person next to you is looking down at your phone as you type.
Have you ever noticed that some websites have that green lock next to the URL for the site? Ever gone to a website and received a warning that it is not secure and that you should proceed with caution? Google Chrome now will not go to a website that doesn’t have some kind of encryption on it without you navigating through the intimidating red screen.
If you want to gather any information from the user, you need an SSL to protect their information, and protect you from any liability. An SSL creates a “key” that is shared from the website to the server itself. There are varying levels of keys, some 128, others 256, etc., but the premise is the same throughout them all. Whenever any information is sent from the site to the server, it takes the information, and changes it to a garbled up mess that only someone with the key could understand. For instance, the word “Hello!” could be encrypted into “8fiwmbc2p2kdjzZyalAPqmw.” It would take a brute force attack from a bot more than 100 years to break a full 256-bit encryption key.
Back at the subway, it’s like you’re texting your friend in pig latin, and the person looking over your shoulder only knows mandarin. Not only are they not speaking the same language, but even if they were, they’d have to understand how pig latin works to be able to understand what you’re actually saying.
Encrypting the data on your site is the primary purpose of having an SSL installed on your website. However, there are other substantial benefits as well that many people aren’t aware of. A secure website is given a higher degree of credibility to search engines than one that is not. If you had two competing websites for specific keywords, and one website has an SSL and the other doesn’t, the one WITH the SSL will have a leg up in the competition.
Write your content in as simple as terms as possible so that a wide-variety of users can understand it. Think through what a user would want to know about you when they arrive, and make sure that your website has the right keywords in place for search engines to categorize your business.