You’re familiar with accessing websites, right? I mean, you accessed this page, so you’re probably a web-surfing pro! To do so, you probably clicked on a link. If you wanted to find this blog post again, another way to see it is to manually type in the “geekrescue.com” URL into the address bar. If you’re like most people these days, you likely don’t even bother with the “www” anymore. You definitely don’t bother with the “http…” part. Even though you won’t likely type this in, you definitely should care about whether or not the site you’re accessing is an “http://…” or and “https://…” site. Let’s look at the meaning of the difference.
Http:// vs Https://
If you’ve ever used the Chrome web browser available from Google, you may have occasionally noticed that the words “Not Secure” immediately to the left of the URL. What does this mean? Well, if you were to copy and paste that URL elsewhere, the URL would begin with “http://” rather than “https://.” The “s” in “https” means that the website you’re accessing is “secure,” — the website has an SSL Certificate.
“What is an SSL certificate?”
“SSL” stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” — a layer of encryption that the website has with the user. When a user enters data such as an email or mailing address into a form on a website with an SSL certificate, this certifies that the webmaster is encrypting the data as it moves from your device to their systems. Encryption is a form of information cloaking, a kind of scrambling of the data that makes it useless when intercepted. Once the webmaster receives the scrambled data, only they can decipher its meaning—keeping sensitive data safe from interception through unsecured WiFi signals or otherwise in transit to its intended destination.
SSL and SEO
Though SSL certificates are an excellent idea for data security, many websites are also embracing them for SEO purposes. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” This process means to make one’s website as appealing to search engines such as Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo to earn the search engines’ linking favor. When a search engine’s algorithm needs to choose between two similarly useful websites to provide in response to a user’s query, if one has an SSL certificate and another one does not, they will usually choose the more secure former site. For this reason, more and more websites are installing SSL certificates by default instead of waiting for it to be essential to user security.
Staying Safe with SSL Certificates
There’s a good chance that you already use the internet for purchasing items of submitting sensitive data, such as email or mailing addresses, to organizations for various reasons. Before you do so, make sure that any website you choose to submit sensitive data to has an SSL. If you’re using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera web browsers, they will all tell you immediately to the left the URL if the website you’re visiting has an SSL certificate. This may be in the form of a lock icon or merely the words “Secure” or “Not Secure.”