Many people, when starting up a business website, do no realize that they need more than just a site with goods and services (and a way for customers to pay for them). Indeed, one of the most important things that you will put on your ecommerce Web site is a SSL certificate. Getting SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is very important if you plan to sell merchandise and services online – especially if you want to be able to accept credit cards and other methods of payment over the Internet. SSL will help you appear trustworthy and it will protect your customers.
What is SSL?
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a type of protocol that adds a level of security to online transactions. You get a security certificate that helps protect the personal payment information that customers enter on your website. When the customer enters information for payment, it is sent over the Internet to be approved by the bank. While this information in transit, the unscrupulous can intercept it and then make use of it. Credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers (for eChecks and direct withdrawals) are sent over the Internet everyday. And identity thieves are just waiting to get this information.
In order to keep private information from fraudsters, SSL encrypts it. Using a special process, the Secure Sockets Layer turns that information into random letters, numbers and symbols. When someone intercepts it, the information looks garbled and useless. In addition to turning sensitive information into useless information, the SSL certificate also issues a key that can decode the message. Only the program or server that has the proper key can turn the useless information back into usable payment information. There are different levels of security used for a SSL certificate. Right now, the highest level (and the most expensive) is 256 bit encryption. Most ecommerce Web sites, however, use 128 bit encryption. 40 bit encryption is the least expensive, and can still be effective.
An SSL certificate costs money – between $10 and $1,500 a year, depending on the security level you choose and whether you share a SSL certificate with someone else, or whether you get a dedicated SSL certificate. You can usually get pretty good secure sockets layer verification and encryption for around $500 to $800 a year. If you use this for your business websites, it is an expense that you can use as a deduction on your taxes. However, having a secure sockets layer is important, even necessary, if you are serious about running a business online.
Why your ecommerce Web site need an SSL certificate
Most Internet shoppers want to know that their information is safe. They are providing you with very personal, very important information that allows access to their money. If it falls into the wrong hands, it can be devastating. Your customers want to know that you value their privacy and their security. One way that they can see that you are serious about protecting them is to have a SSL certificate. This shows them that you send encrypted information through secure sockets layer, and they will be more comfortable shopping on your Web site.
Another thing that a SSL certificate does is verify your identity. There are many scam artists out there that set up Web sites that look legitimate, but that are not. These Web sites steal information when would-be customers try to make payments. A SSL certificate authenticates the business as well. Your website is verified as secure, and you are shown to be who you say you are. Like knowing their information is encrypted, knowing that you are a viable business and that you have been cleared by the SSL certificate issuer can provide peace of mind for customers.
When you sell products and services online, you want to reach a large number of people. You also want them to be able to easily and conveniently pay you. Since most online shoppers turn to the Internet for convenience, they need to be able to pay immediately. However, there are a lot of scary people in cyberspace waiting to steal valuable information. You want your customers to feel safe and secure doing business with you. Even though it costs money to get a SSL certificate, it is an important step to take in your online business. Without it, you are likely to lose customers and find your sales and revenues falling.