5 minute read

It has never been easier to research, communicate or shop online, and most of us assume we are doing so securely. However, cybercrime statistics would suggest otherwise. Malware, phishing and hacking will cost us $6 trillion by 2021, and these threats target sites that do not secure their data. As a result, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates have become an essential standard for proving a site is secure and trustworthy. SSL, along with Transport Layer Security (TLS), offer assurance that a site’s data is encrypted during transit. Installing an SSL certificate is vital, but troubleshooting errors and renewing the certificate are necessary too.

Installing an SSL Certificate Secures Data

As the distinctive green padlock icon suggests, installing SSL certification on a website secures sensitive personal and payment information by encrypting the data during transfer. Any data traffic between the customer browser and domain server is unreadable to third parties — hackers in particular. Given that global ecommerce is valued at $3.9 trillion in 2020, SSL certificates are an essential measure for protecting credit card numbers, passwords and usernames. In fact, SSL certificates are a required standard for any site that accepts credit card payments according to Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.

A Valid SSL Certificate Confirms Domain Identity

Just like the blue checkmark on Twitter, installing and renewing an SSL certificate offers assurance that communications with the website can be trusted. It shows users that the site identity has been authenticated by a third-party Certificate Authority (CA). As a result, visitors to your site know that their data is secure and that personal or card information won’t be hijacked by an impostor server.

But bear in mind, SSL does not guarantee that a certified domain is set up for legitimate purposes. The Anti-Phishing Working Group found that almost three-quarters of phishing sites hide their activity behind SSL-certified HTTPS domains. This is why it pays to also educate your consumers and readers about how to spot a fake website set up by phishers and alert your subscribers immediately when you discover an imposter site.

SSL Certificates Are Essential for SEO

Almost 70% of online users choose the Google Chrome browser, and since 2018, sites that do not have a valid SSL certificate are flagged as ‘not secure’. It makes sense. Google prioritizes user experience and wants to direct each search to results that offer a secure, authenticated experience. It also wants to warn users if the personal profile data, such as passwords and payment details, that it holds for each account is at risk. If you want users to find your site and click on your URL, a valid SSL certificate is key.

The Different Types of SSL Certificates

Although users will only see the same padlock icon next to the URL, behind the scenes there is a variety of SSL certificates to choose from. They range from easy-to-obtain Domain Validated certificates that prove ownership to Multi-Domain SSL certificates which manage multiple domains under a single certificate. The most secure form of authentication is the Extended Validation certificate, which requires a detailed process to obtain, but meets the rigorous requirements for accepting card payments.

What Is an Invalid SSL Certificate?

Once the valid SSL certificate is installed on the domain server, the loop is secured when the stored details correspond seamlessly with those held by the Certificate Authority. If that process is compromised for any reason, users will typically see a pop up warning them that their connection is not private. They can choose to continue, but trust is affected, and friction impacts the browsing experience. Research has shown that 62% of people will not continue. Additionally, according to another study, 84% of online shoppers would forgo a purchase on an unsecure connection.

Common Invalid SSL Errors
  • SSL Certificate not Trusted. This is common on self-signed SSL certificates generated by the server rather than the Certificate Authority.
  • Name Mismatch. The URL does not correspond to the domain in the SSL certificate, either because all options have not been registered (eg., with and without the ‘www’ part), details are misconfigured, or certificate installation on the domain server is not fully complete.
  • Mixed Content. Elements within the page, such as Flash or JavaScript, cannot be verified as secure. When a web page is loaded from a secured and encrypted connection, all elements of the page — images, videos, audio, CSS, and JavaScript included — must also be loaded from an encrypted connection. Otherwise, users will receive a mixed content warning,
  • Expired Certificate. Most SSL certificates become invalid after a year or two. If the certificate has expired, the browser will not load the page even if the page is technically secure.

Troubleshooting Invalid SSL Certificates

Most browsers have a built-in list of trusted certificate providers, and platforms such as WordPress, Wix and others incorporate SSL certificate issuance and renewal into the site build. However, problems often occur when you have multiple domains to manage. Certificates can expire without anyone noticing, errors in configuring the site can mean that relevant details are not filled in correctly, or authentication can be interrupted when domains or URL are redirected or migrated.

The solution? Cut out the risk of human error with automatic management of your SSL certificates through a trusted provider such as EasyRedir. To find out more about redirecting HTTP and HTTPS links as well as setting up, testing and renewing your SSL certification, get in touch today.

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