What Is An SSL Certificate And Why Does Your Website Need One

In the digital age, where everything from shopping to banking is online, website security is more important than ever. One of the critical components of website security is the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. But what exactly is an SSL certificate, and does your website need one?

What Is An SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is a security protocol to establish a secure and encrypted connection between a web server and a client. It ensures that all communications and data transfers between the server and the user are secure and protected from prying eyes. 

When you visit a website that uses an SSL certificate, you will see a padlock icon in the address bar, indicating that the website is secure. When you see this icon, you can be confident that your personal and sensitive data, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other details, are being transmitted safely. 

SSL certificates are essential for e-commerce websites, as they protect customers’ confidential information, ensuring that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Websites like social media and online banking also use SSL certificates to safeguard users’ data.

How Does An SSL Certificate Work?

When visitors enter an SSL-protected website, their browser checks its SSL certificate to ensure it’s legitimate. If everything checks out, the browser then uses the website’s public key to encrypt the data. This data is then sent back to the intended server (website), which is decrypted using the private key and a symmetric session key. This process is sometimes referred to as the “SSL Handshake.”

The handshake process involves the following steps:

  1. The client (browser) sends a “ClientHello” message to the server with its SSL version number, cypher settings, randomly generated data, and other necessary information.
  2. The server responds with a “ServerHello” message, also sending its SSL version, cypher settings, and other data. The server also sends its own certificate; if client authentication is required, it requests the client’s certificate.
  3. The client verifies the server’s SSL certificate with the certificate authority that issued it. If the verification is successful, it sends a message to the server.
  4. The server then sends a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an encrypted SSL session.


This handshake process ensures that the client and the web server verify their identities before exchanging any information.

The Importance Of SSL Certificates

Now that we know what an SSL certificate is and how it works let’s discuss why it is so crucial.

  • Data Protection: The primary purpose of an SSL certificate is to protect client-server communication. It ensures that your customers’ sensitive information, such as personal details or credit card information, is securely transferred.
  • SEO Boost: Google has confirmed that HTTPS is a ranking factor. By not having an SSL certificate, your SEO ranking might suffer.
  • Trust and Credibility: With phishing scams becoming increasingly sophisticated, users need to know they can trust the website they are visiting. A site with SSL will display a padlock in the address bar, instilling confidence in the users.


For these reasons and others, an SSL certificate is advised with every website we build.

How To Obtain An SSL Certificate

Obtaining an SSL certificate can vary depending on your hosting provider. Typically, the below process is followed.

  1. The first step is to purchase the SSL certificate, which can be done through your hosting provider’s dashboard. 
  2. Once purchased, you must verify your domain ownership by adding a unique code to your website’s DNS records. 
  3. After that, you must generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) and provide it to your hosting provider. They will then use the CSR to issue the SSL certificate, and you will be prompted to install it on your server. 


It’s important to note that some hosting providers may have a simplified or slightly different process for obtaining an SSL certificate. Be sure to check with them for specific instructions.

Does Your Website Need An SSL Certificate?

The short answer is yes. Regardless of your website type, having an SSL certificate is beneficial. It protects your user’s information, improves your SEO rankings, and builds trust with your audience. In today’s digital world, an SSL certificate is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. 

So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in an SSL certificate for your website. Overall, SSL certificates are crucial for the security and success of your online presence. They provide essential data protection, improve SEO rankings, and build user trust. Don’t neglect this vital aspect of website security, and invest in an SSL certificate today.

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