If you own a website, you should know that an SSL certificate is necessary for obtaining customers’ trust. Google shows all non-SSL websites as “Not Secure”. The reason an SSL Certificate is important is that it helps protect your website data. For instance, if your website is involved with accepting payments online, then you will definitely be needing an SSL Certificate to protect important private information. Obtaining an SSL Certificate can be expensive. However, if you are a beginner, there are several ways of getting a free SSL Certificate for your WordPress website.
What is SSL?
SSL is an abbreviation for Secure Sockets Layer. In simple terms, it is an internet protocol that secures data transfer between a user’s browser and the website they are visiting. Every user when visiting a website transfers some kind of information. This information can be related to online payments, private addresses, and credit card information, etc.
Although most websites that you see still use the normal HTTP protocol but it is not safe. This is where SSL comes in. SSL certificates are issued by recognized authorities and websites that deal with sensitive information such as the ones mentioned previously, need to acquire them from these recognized sources. Once a website acquires an SSL certificate, you can see a padlock sign next to the website address.
Do I Need an SSL Certificate for My WordPress Website?
Even though every website should have an SSL certificate but those in particular that obtain user’s information definitely need one. It is a basic requirement for such websites. The reason is that you cannot risk the user’s data in any way. If private information was to leak, you can easily end up in legal trouble. If you are running an e-commerce based website then you are going to need an SSL certificate to protect the user’s login information.
Furthermore, most online payment services require you to obtain an SSL certificate even before you can receive payments. Not only that, but an SSL certificate also creates an impression of your website amongst users. Websites that possess an SSL certificate rank comparatively higher than regular websites. Last but not the least, if you are not using an SSL certificate, Google will show your users that your website is not secure, which will make them run away.
How Does SSL Certificate Work?
Now that we are done discussing what is an SSL certificate and how to obtain it, it is time that we move towards discussing how does it work. An SSL certificate works by encrypting the data transfer between the user’s browser and the website. When a user visits a website that has an SSL certificate, the browser first verifies whether the certificate is valid or not. Once the browser ensures that everything is valid, it uses the website’s public key to encrypt the data. Then, the encrypted data is sent back to the intended server, where it is decrypted using the public key and a secret private key.
How Much Do SSL Certificates Cost?
There is no standard for the cost of SSL certificates. It largely depends and varies on the issuing authority. You could get an SSL certificate anywhere between $50-$200. Moreover, some authorities might also offer add-ons with your certificate that will increase the cost of the certificate. If you wish to obtain an SSL certificate, you can opt for Domain.com that happens to be the largest domain name registration service in the world, offering reasonable prices on SSL certificates. Once you have purchased an SSL certificate, you can request your hosting provider to install it for you.
How Can I Get an SSL Certificate for Free?
A lot of new website owners tend to be reluctant to purchase an SSL certificate due to the costs associated. As a result, many websites are left unsecured and might lead to information theft as well. Fortunately, a project called “Let’s Encrypt” addressed this issue so that every website can have a free SSL certificate. The purpose and aim of the project is bigger. If more and more websites were to have SSL certificates, the internet would become a better place in terms of security. Since it was a huge success, it got the attention of giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google, etc.
However, the only problem is that installing the SSL certificate acquired from Let’s Encrypt is comparatively difficult for a beginner as it requires coding and server system knowledge. Following the lead of Let’s Encrypt, many best WordPress hosting companies are now offering free SSL certificates, which makes the guide to getting a free SSL certificate all around relatively easy.
Installing Free SSL Certificate and Setting up WordPress
Once you are done enabling your free SSL certificate, you will need to setup your WordPress in order to start using HTTPS instead of HTTP in your URLs. Perhaps the easiest way of doing it is by installing and activating the Really Simple SSL plugin on your website. Once it is activated, the plugin will check and ensure if your SSL certificate is enabled. Afterwards, it will turn on HTTP to HTTPS redirect and will even change the settings of your website to using SSL/HTTPS.
You should make sure that your website is secure and loading all URLs using the HTTPS protocol. Really Simple SSL plugin will deal with that issue by automatically fixing the URLs when the page loads. You should know if even a single page uploads using an insecure HTTP protocol, then browsers will treat your entire website as insecure.
What are the different types of SSL certificates?
Extended Validation Certificates
An Extended Validation SSL certificate checks and ensures the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name along with conducting a thorough vetting of the organization. As mentioned previously, this type of SSL certificate gives you the padlock icon. As compared to the DV or OV, the EV SSL certificate tends to be more premium. It happens to be the most popular SSL certificate amongst eCommerce sites as well. In addition to that, the process of validating an EV SSL certificate is a lot stricter than the other SSL Certificates out there.
The domain validation SSL certificate happens to be the cheapest type as it is used for blogs and websites that do not require personal information from users visiting the website. However, it will require domain ownership validation that may take just a few hours.
As compared to the DV certificates, the Organization Validation SSL certificates tend to be a bit more premium. This is the minimum level of protection expect and required of eCommerce or any other type of website that involves using personal data from users. Moreover, OV certificates are issued and validated by certificate authorities. You cannot validate them yourself.
This ends our write-up on SSL Certificates and WordPress. Although the process might seem difficult at first but we are sure to have simplified it for you. This guide will come in handy if you are planning to own a website in the future, especially an e-commerce website. By going through the information in detail, you will know where to kickstart the process.