Does Your Small Business Really Need an SSL Certificate?

5.5 min. read

The web is an amazing place. You can get your favorite food delivered on your doorstep, communicate with friends from all over the world, and binge on Netflix as much as your heart wants.

But the web can also be an unsafe place. There are all sorts of people lurking around, trying to steal your information. These hackers are getting smarter by the minute, using new methods such as crypto-ransomware and spear-phishing. 


So, if your problem is to provide your customers with a safe and secure environment on your website, the logical solution is to get some web security. And is there a better way than purchasing an SSL certificate?

In this article, we’ll give you the basics of web security and all the main reasons for getting a web certificate for your website. Let's get started! 

What is an SSL certificate and why is it important?

Let's imagine that you're an owner of a small business company that works with pet doors called "The Bark Shop." You've registered a domain name, created a fantastic website, and you're ready to sell online.

However, you don't want to start selling products without first making sure your website is a safe place for your customers. You want to prevent hackers from stealing your customers' private information, like credit card numbers.

Well, you'll be relieved to hear that a web certificate is all it takes.

SSL is an abbreviation of Secured Sockets Layer. These certificates were initially created to secure communication between a user’s web browser and a website’s server. Today, they come with a cryptographic key that turns your customers' sensitive information into an unreadable format. This is known as encryption. Meaning, website attackers will have to find another website to hack.

An SSL certificate is like an online ID card that says, "this website is safe and secure from outside threats". You've probably noticed that there are some URLs that start with "http", and others with "https". Well, the "s" stands for "secure encryption", which is guaranteed with a certificate.

If your website collects customers' sensitive information such as credit card information and home address, purchasing an SSL license is crucial.  

Do I really need an SSL certificate?

If you've been reading the headlines, you've probably read about the cybersecurity breaches of big businesses like Google and Facebook. Surely, attacks like these can be an embarrassing incident for any company, but it's nearly a small setback for these tech giants. But what would a security breach do to your small business?

A recent report by the National Cyber Security Alliance showed that 60% of small businesses are forced to shut down their business in less than six months after a cyber-attack.

Let's be honest! Small businesses like "The Bark Shop" don't have the resources to make a security breach go away. On top of everything, you may be required to pay a significant fine for allowing the theft of your customers' private information. These fines and fees can put you out of business. Your customers will lose trust in your company, resulting in a loss of revenue. You'll go down in history as yet another small business that didn't manage to protect its customers.

Maybe in the old days, it was sufficient to depend on antivirus software and firewalls. That's not the case today! Although your website is free to operate without an SSL license, is it really worth it? Do you dare to risk your customers' sensitive information and trust? Probably not. 

What is the cost of a digital certificate?

You'll find that there's no shortage of web certificate sellers online. They offer different types of licenses, including:

Single Domain SSL: these types of certificates are a great option if you have a single website. The average price is $3-$5 per year.

Wildcard SSL: if you have several subdomains hosted on a single website (for example an eCommerce site), then this type of SSL license is for you. The Wildcard SSL Certificate can cost you around $50-$90 per year.

Multi-Domain SSL: if you want to secure multiple websites using a single certificate, then the Multi-Domain SSL is the right choice for your business. You can secure up to 99 domains without having to purchase separate licenses for each domain. The average price is $20-$35 per year.

Extended Validation Certificate: this type of certificate is considered to be the most trusted certificate type. Your business goes through a strict validation process in order to obtain the license. The Extended Validation SSL enables browser green padlock icon and displays company name along with the country code in the browser address bar. The average price per year is $80-$150.

There's also one more option and it's the least expensive one of all. By transferring your website from Wordpress, Joomla or any other website builder to Exai, you'll receive a free-of-charge SSL certificate. Apart from protection from malicious attacks, website maintenance and a dedicated account manager, the premium features include an SSL certificate. This will save you additional costs and the trouble of buying the certificate yourself. 

What are the benefits of a web certificate?

SSL encryption comes with a number of benefits, both for your customers and your business. The most notable include:

  1. Chase out the hackers: this is probably the most obvious benefit of the web certificate. The certificate will protect sensitive information such as logins, passwords, and cardholders information for your e-commerce website. Hackers and identity thieves will have to take their business elsewhere.
  2. An authentic and trustworthy website: customers want to do business with a website that's secure and trustworthy. They won't leave their sensitive information on websites that aren't verified and encrypted. Once you purchase your SSL license, people will know that your website is reliably protected.
  3. Google search ranking boost: your customers are not the only ones who treat "http" sites with caution. Google also protects users from unsafe websites that lack a certificate. In 2014, Google announced that having a certificate installed on your website will increase your ranking position.
  4. Increased conversion rate: one study by Symantec showed anywhere from 18-87% increase in conversion rate for protected eCommerce websites. A simple insertion of a trust badge somewhere on your website (especially in the shopping cart), is enough to boost conversions.
  5. Increased value per transaction: in many instances, customers have concerns spending a large amount of money on a transaction if they feel the website is not secure. Their fear grows greater with higher transactions. One case study by Comodo discovered that a digital certificate installed on a website can increase the average value per transaction by 23%. Meaning, a customer who trusts your website is willing to spend higher amounts of money in a transaction.
  6. Browsers are sending alerts to users for non-secure sites: in 2017, Google began sending security warnings in Chrome to users. It alerts users that the website that's asking for their sensitive information doesn't have a valid SSL license. Browsers like Firefox are following these practices.  

How do I get an SSL license?

The most crucial part of a digital certificate is where it comes from. The majority of certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs). CAs are organizations whose role is to verify the identity of any entity that's requesting a certificate. However, you may also issue your digital certificate from a website hosting provider or a domain name register.

Getting your license is quite easy, and what you need to do is verify your domain name and business ownership. Authenticating and verifying your business with a trusted provider will help you chase away hackers and ensure smooth user experience.  

Is SSL certificate mandatory?

If you are collecting any type of sensitive information on your website, then you need to get an SSL license.

Consider securing your site if you're collecting information from your customers. This can be anything from emails and phone numbers to home addresses and names.

Any site that asks their users to fill out some type of form should ensure that their web forms are 100% safe and secure. If you lack a certificate, hackers can easily intercept that information and use it for their gain. Not having a digital certificate can negatively impact your online sales and subscriptions. Why? Because when a customer notices that your site isn't secure, they'll retreat from filling out any forms.

Moreover, if you have an eCommerce site that stores sensitive information like credit card numbers, then purchasing a certificate is crucial. It's highly unlikely that a customer would want to leave their credit card information on a website that's vulnerable to cyber attacks. Chances are, they'll abandon their shopping carts and go to your competition.

However, not all websites need to buy an SSL license. There are many e-commerce shopping carts that come with their secure payment system. In cases like this, a third party takes care of transactions and security.  

Conclusion

All taken into consideration, we can safely conclude that an SSL certificate is a must if you're running an e-commerce site or collecting sensitive information from your customers. What's more, even if you're running a blog or a news magazine, obtaining that digital license is also recommended.

Why?

Because Google views SSL as a ranking signal. Unless you have a digital license, your site will be harder to find, negatively affecting your traffic and revenue.

If you want to avoid risking a hacking attempt and losing your credibility in an instant, secure your website today and safeguard your reputation. Determine which option is the best fit for your company, attach it to your website and enjoy the multiple benefits.

Protect your website before it's too late! 

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