What Is an SSL Certificate and Why Is It Necessary?
If you’ve ventured into creating your own website, chances are you’ve come across mentions of SSL certificates and HTTPS. In this article, we will delve into what they are and why HTTPS is essential for a website.
HTTPS – What Is It?
It might surprise you, but every action on the Internet involves data exchange. When you visit your favorite website or search for a video on YouTube, your web browser and the server engage in information exchange. Every query you enter in the search bar travels from you (the user) to the server and back. This communication is made possible by the HTTP protocol, which was invented back in the early ’90s. While HTTP serves its purpose well, it has a significant shortcoming: it doesn’t encrypt data. Consequently, third parties can easily intercept this data, potentially leading to the theft of personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive details.
In today’s digital landscape, safeguarding data is of paramount importance. This is where HTTPS comes into play, standing for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The fundamental principle behind the secure HTTPS protocol involves the exchange of encryption keys. Before responding to the browser’s request, the server presents a key known as an SSL certificate. The browser then verifies the authenticity of this key through a Certification Authority. If the key is deemed valid, trust is established between the browser and the server, allowing them to agree upon a one-time cipher for that session. This process repeats with each new session, ensuring data integrity and confidentiality during information exchange.
Why Do You Need an SSL Certificate for Your Website?
To enable a website to operate using the secure HTTPS protocol, you require an SSL certificate. It’s a virtual document containing information about the organization, its owner, and proof of their existence. This certificate serves the purpose of identifying the server and confirming the website’s security.
Utilizing a security certificate for a website guarantees:
- The authenticity of the resource being accessed, which boosts trust among visitors.
- The integrity of transmitted information, assuring that data remains unchanged and secure during transit from server to browser.
- Confidentiality, achieved through 256-bit encryption that prevents unauthorized access to sensitive information.
Aside from data protection, what else does an SSL certificate provide for a website? It contributes to the SEO advancement of your project, potentially leading to a higher ranking in search engine results. Renowned search engines like Google, Yandex, and others prioritize websites that operate through secure connections.
Secure Your Transmitted Data By installing an SSL certificate, your website will function via a secure HTTPS connection.
Types of SSL Certificates SSL certificates come in three main types, categorized based on the level of verification:
- Domain Validation (DV) certificates – These offer basic validation by confirming domain ownership.
When issuing DV certificates, only domain ownership is verified. This type is available to individuals and can also be obtained by legal entities. After establishing a secure connection to the website, a distinct “lock” icon appears in the browser’s address bar, signifying secure data transmission.
- Organization Validation (OV) or Company Validation (CV) certificates – These provide business-class validation by verifying organization details.
Issuing OV or CV certificates involves not only validating domain ownership but also verifying the existence of the organization, both legally and physically. This type is exclusive to legal entities, and clicking on the lock icon in the address bar displays information about the company.
- Extended Validation (EV) certificates – These offer extended verification, including legal validation of the organization.
EV certificates are also available solely to legal entities. To obtain them, documents confirming not only the existence of the organization but also its legal operations must be submitted to the certification authority. In addition to the lock icon, a trust seal from the certification center and detailed information about the company are displayed in the address bar.
HTTP or HTTPS? That’s the Question!
Securing a website with the HTTPS protocol is no longer just a matter of etiquette; it’s an imperative. Despite the fact that some websites still operate using HTTP connections, HTTPS will soon become a mandatory requirement for the internet’s “ecology.”
Since July 2018, Google has considered any website not using the HTTPS protocol as insecure. When a user attempts to access a page using the HTTP protocol, they encounter a warning sign in the address bar:
No secure connection.
How will this affect your business?
This warning may deter users from the website. Search engines do not trust websites lacking HTTPS, making SEO work more challenging. Malicious entities can potentially steal data from the website. Furthermore, platforms like WordPress and other popular content management systems have announced that certain features will only be accessible to websites using the HTTPS protocol.
I Still Have HTTP; What Should I Do?
When registering a domain or obtaining hosting services, you can receive a free SSL certificate for six months. If your website is already hosted with Reg.ru, all you need to do is order an SSL certificate and transition from the HTTP protocol to HTTPS. The complete process involves:
Switching to HTTPS:
- Obtain a Free SSL from Letsencrypt.
- Installing the SSL certificate on your hosting.
- Verifying that the certificate is correctly installed.
- Finally, configuring the redirect from HTTP to HTTPS, following the provided instructions.
Use robots.txt, htaccess to tell search engines, that you already switched to HTTPS.
With these steps completed, your website will operate securely via HTTPS.
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