The internet is a great place to expand your customer base and fine-tune your marketing strategy, but without a strong web security plan you may be putting your online business at risk. That’s where SSL encryption comes in.
The rapid growth of website building, hosting and management platforms has made it easy to create your own digital storefront. With near unlimited options, some business owners find it difficult to stay up-to-date with their customers’ security needs.
Why Do Small Businesses Need Strong Web Security?
When a user visits your website, information is passed back and forth between their web browser and your website’s server. Without some form of encryption, this data is transmitted as clear text – allowing sensitive information to be easily located and read if accessed by cyber criminals. Generally speaking, hackers are looking to steal two types of data: personal information and financial information.
- Personal information: names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers
- Financial information: credit card numbers, checking account info, and payment histories
This information is highly valuable, and if left unprotected could be used for credit card fraud and/or identity theft. Even if your website does not sell anything directly, visitors who sign up for personal accounts or newsletters are still at risk.
Does your business have a private email address through your website? If so, your contacts and email history could also be compromised without SSL encryption. There’s a lot of valuable information sitting in your inbox, so it’s important to protect your email server from unauthorized access.
Why Do Hackers Target Small Businesses?
Cyber criminals go after small businesses because they seem like easy targets. The truth is, hackers hope to take advantage of small business owners’ who lack technical knowledge of website security. Because many businesses owners create and maintain their websites through platforms like Wix and Squarespace, it’s relatively common for these security concerns to be overlooked.
As I mentioned, most hackers are looking to access sensitive information they can use or sell. In reality, their goal is to make-off with as much data as they can get their hands on. That’s why knowing how to protect a website from being hacked is a huge part of doing business online.
Without an SSL certificate – or if your certificate expires – your website data is vulnerable to the threat of hacking and may be exploited. Big companies can afford to hire large web security firms, but there are cheaper alternatives that small businesses can easily afford.
How Does SSL Encryption Help Secure Your Website?
The SSL (Secure Socket Layer) prevents unauthorized users from accessing the data flowing between the visitor and your website server. This is achieved through a process known as encryption. The process protects sensitive information by encoding the transmitted data, scrambling the information to prevent cyber criminals from accessing it. Think of it like a padlock for personal data.
Even if a hacker did manage to gain access, the data would not be able to be read or used. This includes personal information, online transactions, and even marketing and sales data stored on your website server.
It’s important to show your customers that you’re serious about their data privacy. Strong web security can help your visitors feel secure while engaging with the online experience you provide. Protecting the integrity of your website is one of the best ways to build credibility online.
How Can Small Businesses Protect Themselves?
Basic website security is all about maintaining a safe environment for current and potential customers who want to engage with your products and content. Visitors to your website are more likely to share their sensitive information if they know its protected by SSL technology.
The first step in securing your online business is to purchase a SSL (or TLS) certificate and apply it to your website server. These security certificates do expire, so it’s important to stay up-to-date. Managing security certificates can be a bit confusing if you’re new to running your own website, but there are a lot of free resources online that can walk you through it. You’ll know the website is protected when you see a padlock icon in the “https” address bar of your web browser.
If you’re looking for a more hands-off approach, partnering with a website design and hosting company can provide your business with professional web security without all the hassle. When you host your website with Interactive Palette, we provide you with a FREE SSL/TLS certificate through our Let’s Encrypt SSL service. This gives you more time to focus on growing your business and connecting with new customers, while we focus on keeping your website safe.
Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our blog posts on the topic.