SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
Without an SSL certificate, data sent between browsers and web servers is transmitted in plain text which could be intercepted and read during transit.
A certificate can also serve as an electronic “passport” that establishes an online entity’s credentials. When an Internet user attempts to send information to a Web server, the user’s browser accesses the server’s digital certificate and establishes a secure connection.
Previously the use of SSL certificates was only necessary for transmitting sensitive information such as credit card numbers or online shopping order forms. However Chrome and FireFox are now changing the way websites without SSL certificates are handled. Any website that is not running HTTPS will have a message appear in the location bar that says “Not Secure” on pages that collect passwords or credit card details.
Eventually, Chrome and FireFox plan to label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle currently used for broken HTTPS pages. Having an SSL certificate is also a ranking factor for Google, so it can have SEO benefits too.
By default, all the websites we create here at Creative Sponge include an SSL certificate – it’s all part of our best practice approach to web development.