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Securing your website with SSL

Published on 10th February 2017

From January 2017 (Chrome browser v56) you might have noticed that when you're on a website using the Chrome browser it shows the words "NOT SECURE" before many websites.  This is because Google will only give a secure designation to website that are https://  Here's what this looks like in your browser:

Secure and No Secure messages

To achieve a SECURE rating you need to install an SSL (secure socket layer in case you're interested) certificate onto your website and then change all your site paths, including any plugin and scripts, to https:// then test thoroughly.

As of writing Firefox has always shown the padlock with a line through it so indicate you are looking at a http:// site rather than a https:// site, but it's not obvious.  Internet Explorer does not show any indication unless the site is https:// then you get the padlock symbol.

When I talk to clients about https and SSL they glaze over very fast indeed, and I understand that.  Up until mid 2016 unless you were taking sensitive data on your website such as customer details and credit card details, there was really little motivation to add SSL and incur the costs of doing that.

Just to be clear what we are securing here it's not your website as such, it's the connection between your site users (their browser) and your website.  SSL will not prevent hacking of your site, you still need to take all the precautions you would normally to stop this.

For the record there are different types of SSL certificate but most sites will be fine with the free version.

FORS AND AGAINST:

In the for camp we have:

  • Establishes trust with users.
  • Keeps user data secure.
  • Removes worrying messages in Chrome, and soon to be in other browsers.
  • Offers a positive impact, if small, to your Google rankings.
  • For most websites an SSL certificate is available at no cost.

In the against camp we have:

  • There is a cost to convert your website to SSL and test it thoroughly, budget 4 hours but possibly less.  This is a one time job so there is no ongoing cost.
  • If you are a high traffic site with 10s of thousands of visitors a month there may be a small impact on performance if you are on lower cost hosting.

Conclusion

If you can afford to pay for a few hours work by your website developer I would highly recommend you install SSL on your website.

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Categories: Google, Security, SEO

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