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Do I need an SSL Certificate for my website?

Do you run your own e-commerce site? Do you collect credit card or other personal information from your customers? If so, you need an SSL Certificate!

In essence SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, encrypts any information sent from a visitor’s web browser to your site, protecting it from prying eyes. It is most commonly used when visitors send credit card information over the web like a credit card number, or even a login password. When SSL is active, the prefix of the website normally changes to ‘https://’, which signals a secure connection. The SSL certificate confirms that your site is secure and this gives customers the confidence to order from your site and trust your company with their personal information.

Don’t underestimate the importance of an SSL Certificate. Many web-savvy buyers simply won’t order from a site that has not taken steps to secure the data and the SSL certificate has become another sign of a trustworthy site they can rely on. If you use a third-party payment processor like Paypal then, technically, you don’t need an SSL certificate, but if you plan on holding any kind of customer information yourself then it’s highly recommended. A lot of login forms currently aren’t secure, but it’s a weak point and poor customer relations, and with certificates getting cheaper then it pays to invest a little in a secure, encrypted system.

But which one do you need?

There’s a bewildering amount of information out there and, of course, it depends on the information you’re collecting. Providers have a clear selection and explanations that will help a relative novice select the right SSL Certificate for them, and you would do well to compare all SSL certificates from Thawte before taking the plunge. With packages costing from $149, it’s not the big expense you might have been dreading too.

Of course you can start with a shared certificate that are cheaper and often included with basic ecommerce packages that look good on paper. Many of these certificates throw up warning errors though, which can put potential customers off, as although the information is encrypted there is no company validation.

The next step up is Domain Validation, the most basic form of dedicated SSL certificate that confirms you’re entitled to use the domain name. This is all the guarantee that many customers need to proceed with their order and means that your website carries a symbol of trust, the padlock sign and secure URL will give you the vote of confidence, without you having to file paperwork. Domain Validation can generally be carried out via email, with an authentication token validating your ownership of the domain, and is often offered as a single or multiple domain package and can provide up to 256-bit security.

An Organisation SSL is the next level. Here the company or organisation is carefully vetted and you will need to supply various documents to achieve this status. It’s more complicated, but it gives you authenticity and credibility on the web.

The ultimate is the Wildcard SSL with Extended Validation. This covers the new high security browsers that will display your site with a green bar that means they can buy with confidence. If you’re looking into these higher security options, only purchase from trusted providers like SSL security and encryption from Thawte. Certificates from these type of globally recognized companies are more trustworthy to the user and can be the difference between the client conversion or loss.

What do you think?

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