As you may have noticed, some sites show “http://” in front of an internet address and others show “https://”. The extra “s” stands for “secure” and indicates a protected site. The most important way to protect data exchange on a website is an SSL certificate, or “Secure Socket Layer.”

This type of network protocol allows for the secure transmission of data and encrypts data that is exchanged between a website and its visitors. Unauthorized users are unable to access this data which is especially important when querying sensitive user data such as passwords, email addresses or bank account information.

Sites that don’t use HTTPS instead of HTTP judiciously are crippling the privacy controls you thought were protecting your data. Websites’ adoption of opt-in sharing and straightforward privacy settings are laudable. Those measures restrict the amount of information about you that leaks from websites (at least they’re supposed to). Yet they have no bearing on sniffing attacks if the site doesn’t encrypt traffic. This is why sites like Facebook and Twitter recently made HTTPS always available to users who care to turn it on — it’s off by default.

What is HTTPS?

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. HTTPS is often used to protect highly confidential online transactions like online banking and online shopping order forms.

Web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome also display a padlock icon in the address bar to visually indicate that a HTTPS connection is in effect.

Benefits of Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure

The major benefits of a HTTPS certificate are:

1.Customer information, like credit card numbers, is encrypted and cannot be intercepted
2.Visitors can verify you are a registered business and that you own the domain
3.Customers are more likely to trust and complete purchases from sites that use HTTPS
4.HTTPS Can Be Significantly Faster Than HTTP
5.HTTPS protects the integrity of your website
6.HTTPS can help with SEO
7.Necessary for Accepting Payments
8.Guards Against Phishing
9.Improves Customer Trust

How to get HTTPS

Setting up HTTPS on your website is very easy, just follow these 5 simple steps:

1.Host with a dedicated IP address
2.Buy a certificate
3.Activate the certificate
4.Install the certificate
5.Update your site to use HTTPS

Note: Your web host may also do all these steps for you too – check with them before proceeding. This can get complicated and if you can wait 1-2 days it may be best to let them do it. But Unless you’re installing up the certificate yourself, this is the easiest step you’ll ever do. All you have to do is sent a message to your host requesting that they change your website from HTTP to HTTPS.

Summary

What makes a website secure? A properly installed security certificate.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully protected your website by installing an SSL cert and made your visitors less prone to attacks. You can breathe easy knowing that any information they submit on your website will be encrypted and safer from packet sniffing hackers.

Are you convinced to add https to your small business website? Have you already made the switch? If so, what benefits have you experienced? We’d love to hear your comments so please do share your experiences with us.