GDPR, SSL and HTTPS. We in the online world do love our acronyms! In 2018 Google announced that it was going to start penalizing unsecure websites heavily – and that’s exactly what they did. It’s completely understandable: Google doesn’t want to send searchers to a website where their personal information could end up being stolen by hackers and ransomware criminals. A secure website needs an SSL certificate, to show visitors that their details are safe while browsing it.

Let’s define SSL and HTTPS, then look at how an SSL certificate fits with your website and how to secure your South African website in no time:


What is an SSL Certificate?

The first thing to know about SSL certificates is that they aren’t physical pieces of paper. Secure sockets layer, or SSL, is a type of security measure for websites that guards against third-party interference. When you visit a website, you’re establishing a link between your browser (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) and a server where your destination website is hosted. Without an SSL certificate, hackers can access your website connection and steal information.

There are three main types of SSL certificates:

  • Domain Validation (DV)
    Recommended for blogs and personal websites where user information is not gathered.
  • Organization Validation (OV)
    Recommended for business/NPO websites that don’t sell products/services online.
  • Extended Validation (EV)
    Recommended for eCommerce websites that capture credit card details.

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, and is the resultant effect of installing an SSL certificate on a website. An unsecure website will be HTTP, without the ‘S’ on the end. HTTPS is a protocol over which data is transferred between your internet browser and the website you’re visiting.

All this really means is that your browser and the website have agreed on a language to communicate with, and that messages are scrambled so that no hackers can understand the information they might intercept.


Secure vs Unsecure Websites

A secure website, or one that has an SSL certificate installed, will have a little green or grey padlock to the immediate left of the URL in your address bar. You’ll also notice that the standard http:// is changed to https://. Here’s what a secure website address looks like:

With internet privacy a really big issue of late, internet browsers now make very sure that visitors know their connection might not be secure. Therefore, on unsecure websites, you’ll see the words Not secure in red or grey next to the website URL:

Studies have shown that internet surfers actually prefer to browse secure website over unsecure ones – even if they aren’t planning on filling in any contact forms! An SSL certificate gives your website visitors the peace of mind that they are secure while on your website, and it allows you – as a business owner – to rest assured knowing that your website is safe from hackers and other digital deviants.


How to Get an SSL Certificate for Your Website

Got a business website but you’re yet to get onto the SSL bandwagon? We strongly suggest you consider doing so before long! An unsecure website won’t rank nearly as well as a secure website on the Google search engine results pages, and this could be costing you valuable website traffic – even leads! Speak to your website hosting provider about an SSL certificate, or contact WSI today and we can facilitate the process for you…


Renewing Your SSL Certificate

Did you know that your SSL certificate can expire? Contrary to popular belief, SSL certificates need to be renewed once a year. This is very important to keep in mind if you’re doing paid advertising on Google, Bing or any other internet advertising platform that directs traffic to your website. WSI Durban recently had a situation where our client’s Google Shopping adverts were suspended completely and immediately. The reason? An outdated SSL certificate! Speak to your website hosting provider about when your SSL certificate is due for a renewal.


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