As hackers and phishers devise increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, smart web security is now more important than ever. There are numerous measures to take that help ensure your online safety \u2014 from installing password managers and anti-virus software, to setting up two-step verifications on all your important personal accounts. Equipping websites with SSL certificates is another critical security measure to consider if you\u2019re the owner or manager of a website. We recommend to all of our clients that they encrypt their site(s) with an SSL certificate. Let\u2019s take a moment to walk through what an SSL certificate is and which kind of certificate is right for your business. We\u2019ll also outline some of the advantages of obtaining an SSL certificate for your website from a web design agency. What is an SSL certificate? A secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate creates a secure, encrypted connection between your web server and your site visitors. SSL certificates have been around for years as integral components of ecommerce operations and any website that involves usernames and passwords. SSL certificates are strongly recommended for all sites, regardless of whether they process transactions or require login credentials. In some cases, websites without this industry-level standard of security could even be penalized by search engines. As of January 2017, Google Chrome browser marking any pages that request personal information without being properly encrypted and secured with HTTPS as "Not Secure.\u201d Which type of SSL certificate is right for my business? There are two types of SSL certificates to consider when taking steps to secure your website. Organization Validation (DV) Certificates verify that you are, in fact, the owner of a domain. In addition to being simple and quick to obtain, these certificates provide an excellent level of protection against hackers. Extended Validation (EV) Certificates require the most involved verification process. In addition to validating your domain ownership, it ensures the overall legitimacy of your business through an extensive vetting process. After the site undergoes vetting, the certificate displays your company\u2019s name in the browser address bar. (See example.) The benefits of securing your website with an SSL certificate Encrypt sensitive personal information An SSL certificate is vital if your site features input fields that request personal data from users. Examples of personal information input fields include login pages with usernames and passwords, or forms requesting credit card information or social security numbers. If your website features one of these elements, it's important that you encrypt your website with an SSL certificate as soon as possible. Improve customer trust Genuine businesses need genuine websites to attract genuine customers. The fact is, the less secure your website is, the more site visitors and potential customers you\u2019ll lose. If your site visitors notice a \u201cnot secure\u201d warning, they will almost certainly leave as soon as possible. SSL certificates communicate to your site visitors that your business and its digital presence are legitimate. Ensure safe payments If your website accepts online payments, having an SSL certificate is simply a non-negotiable part of doing business. Insecure payments compromise your customers\u2019 lives as well as your own! If hackers can compromise your customers\u2019 credit card details, you could be on the hook for the stolen information. Prevent phishing A phishing scam occurs when someone attempts to trick you into sharing your personal information online through emails, online advertisements, or impostor websites that look similar to sites that you might regularly use. Fortunately, because browsers such as Google Chrome now penalize sites without SSL certificates, it\u2019s much easier to identify fraudulent sites, which are not able to attain legitimate SSL certificates. Strengthen Google rankings If you\u2019re interested in staying on top of your search engine optimization efforts, an SSL certificate can help with that. SSL certificates make websites more trustworthy. As a result, search engines reward these sites with better rankings. Ready to strengthen your site security? If you don\u2019t already have an SSL certificate for your website, now is the time to get one. Southern Web can help! Request an SSL certificate today, or if you have questions, don\u2019t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.