Many of us bloggers are familiar with the basics of running our websites but may not be aware of all the techy things that run in the background that help our sites run smooth and safely behind the scenes.
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol which creates a secure connection between a client website and the server over which to information is sent using an encryption method to make sure information is secure from hackers.
Many website owners may not have been made aware of the importance of obtaining an SSL certificate. Having this certificate is what changes your site’s URL from beginning with ‘http’ to ‘https’. It’s the added ‘s’ for secure that makes our sites safely encrypted.
Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?
If you’re someone like me who thought that by having an ‘https’ URL wasn’t important because I’m not selling anything on my site, for example: products that require a buyer to enter a credit card on your site to purchase an item, then think again.
An SSL certificate does much more than just provide a buyer a safe environment to enter their personal information. It provides security for ANYONE who enters their mere email address to a sign up or contact form from being phished by hackers.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a method used by hackers and scammers to obtain information that isn’t securely encrypted, and once they’ve stolen personal data, they use those email addresses to send emails to try and get access to those addressee’s more private information so they can attempt to steal from them.
Those scammers will send an email stating they’re sending it from the hacked site, one that may look familiar to you, but if you’re careful you will notice the email address will also have a different tail end of their email address to the original site they say they’re sending from. What these hackers intend to do is make you think you recognize the email address it came from, then possibly offer you something, and in order to obtain their offer you must click on a link they provide. Once you click on that link and fill in your information is where the usual thievery begins because you’ve given an impostor your information.
I wrote a few posts in the past explaining about some phishing emails that have been going around from Paypal and some government sites and financial institutions, detailing how they try to get our information and how people who are unsavvy in detecting scammers get caught in their webs. It’s important that if you receive any suspicious emails, to pay attention to the sender’s email address and question yourself as to what these scammers are after WITHOUT clicking on any links they send to click on.
As I mentioned in an older post, government and financial institutions will NEVER send you emails asking to log into your account through an email link, but ask you to go directly to their website and login safely with your password.
How Can SSL Certificates Protect Your Site?
Even though you may not be selling anything on your site, anything you type into your browser on your site and anyone signing up to receive emails from you site can become susceptible to scammers in cyberspace if they try to steal info from that site.
Another example of being hacked without an SSL certificate is if you’re traveling and working on your website using a public wifi such as at an airport, hotel or even in a public cafe, hackers are plentiful in these vicinities and can easily steal your unsecured info in the same way. At least if you’re at home using your site on your own wifi, the odds of being hacked are much less than when you’re using a public wifi where anybody on that same wifi can hack your site if you open it.
I’m still learning a lot about my own website with every call I make to my webhost provider, Godaddy. And I’d like to thank Tim from tech support today for explaining the importance of having an SSL certificate to me. Any time I’m having a problem on my site, I call Godaddy and they are always knowledgeable and extremely helpful in solving my issues. They don’t push products on me, but sometimes make suggestions based on my usage and traffic to better protect and operate my website. And today I got an informative lesson about the importance of having this certificate, so I hope I’ve helped by explaining what I’ve learned about securing our websites.
- Those of you on WordPress.com already have an https URL because WordPress is securely encrypted.
- Many of you may notice now that when visiting my site that you will now be landing on my newly secured site – https://atomic-temporary-200280624.wpcomstaging.com, and/or if you’re still typing in the site – https://atomic-temporary-200280624.wpcomstaging.com, you will be automatically re-directed to the new secure version.
- All of you who were previously signed up to receive my emails, as well as new sign ups are all safe and sound now.
- Some of you who may have had trouble in the past leaving comments on my site, or getting booted while halfway through leaving a comment, will no longer have to endure that agony and frustration. Do know you weren’t alone. I had my own issues logging into my own site on occasion. Apparently, what I learned from Tim today was that WordPress had recently added new PHP code which was conflicting with logging in on self-hosted websites causing all kinds of glitches until Godaddy had to re-structure their platform to coincide with the WordPress changes. I highly recommend that if you’re self-hosted and having similar issues to call your webhost to rectify. It’s not always a WordPress issue for the Happiness Engineers, it could be a conflict of their changes with your webhosting. Sometimes WordPress doesn’t play nice with our domains and only our webhosts can rectify those issues.
I hope you’ve found this article useful. Please always leave me a comment if you have any troubles navigating my site. I don’t always know there’s a problem, but you know if I learn of one, I’m on it like flint! I’d like to thank all of you who’ve taken the time here or by email to let me know you were encountering glitches while trying to comment. I’m hoping it will be smooth sailing from here on!