Now, why do I need an SSL certificate? Is it mandatory? Why should I spend money on it?
These are relevant questions of any website owner. However, Internet users with at least some sense of internet security will visit or access only secure websites. They will share information only if they are confident that your website is secure. If you need to prove that you own a genuine website and are running a genuine business then you must secure your website and its integrity, or cyber criminals could imitate your website and dupe users into sharing their information on their fraudulent website. For this reason, you must get an SSL certificate.
Websites secured with SSL also enjoy a better ranking in search engines such as Google. This move is an encouragement for websites to get SSL certificates for security.
Necessity and Implications for an eCom merchant
If you are an eCommerce merchant and you need to accept online payments then you must secure your website and transactions with an SSL certificate. Maintaining an insecure website can have severe repercussions. The loss of integrity leads to loss of trust in your website. Your website will receive lesser and lesser footfall and if you are an eCommerce merchant then it would lead to loss of business. If you have to store sensitive personal information of website visitors then it must be protected. If there is a successful cyber attack and a data breach takes place the data can be misused by attackers for malicious activities. Cyber thieves may use the stolen card details to perform purchases. And since you are responsible for the data, you may be legally sued.
An Intro to Types of SSL Certificates
SSL certificates are issued by trusted CA (Certificate Authorities). SSL certificates are available with different validation levels – domain validated (DV), organization validated (OV), and Extended Validation certificates (EV). DV certificates are issued using an automated, online process that validates only the domain control. This has a lower price point and is issued nearly instantly, which is popular among small-medium sized websites. For OV certificates, the CA does full business and company validation and this has a higher assurance level than DV certificates. The issuance process is more stringent.
EV certificates provide the highest levels of security and trust and are the best suited for online businesses. CAs issue EV certificates only after conducting rigorous background checks on the applying entity according to the guidelines specified by the Certificate Authority/Browser (CA/B) Forum. As a visual indication, the address bar of the website will display in green color or the organization’s name will be displayed in green color. Further, “https://” would be prefixed before the website address. Some reputed CAs such as Comodo also provide a Trust symbol that further adds to the visual authentication for the website.
As the owner of your enterprise/organization, you must identify the best certificate that would be appropriate for your business. It should, however, be noted that due to mississue of SSL certificates by certain CAs, it is recommended to get SSL certificates only from reputed CAs who strictly adhere to the baseline requirements laid out by the CA/Browser Forum in the issuance of SSL certificates.