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Brendan Egan

Why Do We Use SSL or HTTPS For Credit Cards Online

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I came across yet another web design nightmare when talking on the phone with a potential new client about SEO for her small business.  This was a huge nightmare and one of the many problems was improper use (or lack of use) of secure socket layers (SSL).

What Is A Secure Socket Layer (SSL)?

A secure socket layer (SSL) defined in simple terms is just a way to encrypt data and secure data on a server.  Normal websites use http:// in the prefix of the URL, however when you have a SSL connection you will notice https:// where the “s” stands for secure.  You will also notice a little lock symbol and text stating that the page is encrypted and secure as we see in the following image:

Whenever you are submitting confidential information online, most commonly credit card information, you should ALWAYS look to make sure the website is using a HTTPS:// prefix and make sure the little lock symbol shows up.  If you click on the lock symbol which we did in this example you will see information about the type of encryption and verification that the website is in fact encrypted.  This is important to make sure the whole page is encrypted and the site owner didn’t just put the HTTPS:// without properly encrypting the site.

On a normal, unsecure webpage, your data is transferred over the internet just as normal data.  However on a secure page, your data is encrypted when it leaves your computer then decrypted once it reaches the server.  This prevents anyone from intercepting your data or eavesdropping on what you are doing. This isn’t foolproof but it is the web standard today for securing credit card and personal information and it works quite well.

The reason I bring this up is because just yesterday I was on the phone with a potential new client whose web designer doesn’t know much about web design and built several pages on the site without using a SSL connection.  These pages are accepting client information as well as credit card data.  There are also several pages within the administrator’s client management system that don’t use SSL which we would normally use SSL on.  When you hire a web designer it’s important to make sure they know things like when to use SSL and when not to use SSL because if you use it on everything it becomes very data intensive and usually will dramatically slow down your site load speed.  But when you don’t use it in proper areas, you are putting your customer’s information at risk and quite honestly are losing savy customers because they won’t submit their data on unsecure pages.

If you’re questioning whether or not your web designer properly setup your website or properly used secure socket layers, fill out a consultation request form directly to the right to discuss it with one of our qualified web designers.