SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a cryptographic protocol that secures data sent across networks, including the Internet. SSL uses an authenticated key issued by a third-party certificate authority to validate a website’s legitimacy. Most web users experience SSL certificates in the form of https (as opposed to http) prefixes in a URL.
Plainly put, an SSL certificate tells your web browser that the site you’re visiting is actually what it purports to be, and enables the website to send and receive information in an encrypted format.
Does your website need one? Not necessarily. If your website just contains information about your business like location, what you do, or customer testimonials (i.e., information meant for the general public), then you probably don’t need one.
However, you do need one if your website performs any of the following functionalities:
- Any kind of e-commerce (ordering, billing, payments, etc.)
- Microsoft Exchange email web access
- Access to certain kinds of databases via a web browser, especially ones subject to regulatory requirements
- Access to vendor portals
There are some caveats to the above list (e.g., if you accept payments through a third-party service like Paypal, you may not need one), as well as situations where an SSL certificate might offer other benefits.
For an in-depth analysis of your business’s SSL needs, contact a trusted LISTA technology advisor.