The threat is real
These days, you can’t turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, browse your favorite news website, or flip through a magazine without learning about the latest security threats plaguing online businesses and consumers. And last month’s disclosure by major credit card companies that over 40 million cards may have been compromised is evidence that even the leading financial institutions are not immune to the threats. Clearly, it’s more important than ever to secure your web storefront-to safeguard your customer’s private information and ultimately protect your bottom line! As an online store owner, one of the easiest and most responsible things you can do to secure the data submitted via your site is to implement secure sockets layer or SSL.
SSL to the rescue
The SSL protocol allows client/server applications to communicate in a way designed to prevent eavesdropping, tampering, and data forgery. SSL protects network access, online communications, and digital transactions by enabling a secure channel between your servers and your users. With SSL in place, information transmitted from your online store (e.g., via web forms) is encrypted before it is sent over the Internet.
When you connect to a secure web server such as https://www.domain.com/, the server authenticates itself to the web browser by presenting a “digital certificate”. A digital certificate is an electronic file that uniquely identifies individuals and servers. Digital certificates allow the client (i.e. web browser) to authenticate the server prior to establishing the encrypted SSL session. Typically, digital certificate requests are reviewed and approved by an independent and trusted third party to ensure their validity.
SSL certificates provide non-forgeable proof of your website’s identity, and they are a great way to instill customer confidence in the integrity and security of your online business.
Without SSL security in place, information is transmitted in “clear text”. This is practically an open invitation for hackers, script kiddies, and other mischief makers to use commonly available “packet sniffing” software to snatch the information while in transit.
Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of SSL security and will often (and with good reason) not purchase online from stores that have not implemented digital certificates and SSL. All major web merchants now use SSL security to encourage customers to buy online.