Is Your Website Secure? If Not, You’re Not Only Unsafe on the Web, You’re Likely Losing Business

Not to long ago, it was considered “a good idea” to ensure your website was protected with a security seal—giving you that https:// in front of your domain. Today, it’s vital.

Without https on your website in this day and time, you’re not only putting your data — and your customer’s data — at risk, you’re likely turning away potential customers or losing existing customers as well.

What is HTTPS?

Almost everyone is familiar with http HTTP what it stands for—Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Yet, time has shown many of us, unfortunately, that websites aren’t always “secure” at all.  This is where HTTPS comes in to play. HTTPS is a combination of HTTP with an extra layer of security—SSL. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is an extra layer of security that encrypts digitally transmitted data so it can’t be read by nefarious parties like hackers.

To go more basic, from a very simple level, https is a protocol that protects the transmission of data — communications, transactions, etc. — for websites and web browsing so that it can’t be grabbed, read, and used by parties for which it wasn’t originally intended. In other words, it prevents “digital eavesdropping” where your sensitive data can be picked up without permission and be used for many purposes that range from annoying to financial and security detrimental.

Once upon a time, “an SSL certificate”—the piece that is layered on top of http to give that added protection, was really only considered “necessary” for big businesses like financial institutions, e-commerce sites, social networks, or email services.

Today, it’s not only important, but absolutely essential for businesses of all sizes, both for legal reasons and to meet customer expectations and satisfaction.  Furthermore, taking that one step further, it’s critical for the most optimal SEO or traffic performance and benefit too.

Specifically, here is why you need to be sure your website has an SSL certificate applied and is accessible only through that valuable https:// prefix:

  1. Users expect the protection it offers when they choose to do business with you.

Data breaches are jumping through the roof these days. The recent Twitter breach — or “hack” — of certain verified accounts significantly demonstrated that even the most secure sites aren’t immune. You might be thinking that your site isn’t twitter—isn’t that big or important so you don’t need to worry, right? Quite the opposite actually… If hackers can breach those sites—that are tightly locked up—imagine what they can and often do attempt when the door is left wide open as it is when a site has no security certificate in place at all?

2) You can face big legal and financial penalties if you “allow” user data to be breached.

If or when your customers’ data is exposed — especially if you did not have security protection in place in the form of an SSL, or that extra layer of security protection — you not only get ill will from your customers and the public, you can be (heftily) penalized legally and financially as well. 

You very likely heard about the Equifax data breach a few years ago and how Equifax lost millions of dollars as a result of having to settle legally with customers and offer free services to impacted customers for an extended period. Again, you might not be “Equifax” and they did have high security in place. However,  most businesses can’t withstand losing the trust of the majority of their customers—or the financial payout that may be necessary to convince them to not only not leave you, but to also not sue or pursue other legal remedies for your failure to keep their data safe.

3) You will never get the organic web traffic from ranking highly in search that comparable-quality sites you’re competing against, who do have an SSL, will enjoy.

Google greatly looks down on sites without an SSL, in terms of ranking such sites for their keywords versus the competition that does employ the SSL—the https:// preceding their site and site URLs.  Google’s algorithms and newer AI engine considers the SSL — the https:// prefix — one of their most important “trust signals” and thus, ranking factors. Basically, Google has decided that it’s in the better or best interest of the Google search user to visit “safer” sites. Thus, when all other things are equal or close, Google will very likely rank the sites with the SSL higher and show them more and even most often.

Really, what all three of these points boil down to is that having an SSL simply provides your customers with both a real and perceived better user experience.

Since we know the value of the user experience to nearly every other aspect of our business success, it only makes sense to do all we can to ensure and improve that whenever and wherever we can. Deploying an SSL on our sites is a simple, inexpensive, sign to our customers that we care and that they — and their data — are as safe as possible in our hands.