Why Your Unsecure Website Can Hurt Your Business (and How To Fix It)
Yes, your unsecure website can hurt your business! Why? It’s all about trust.
We live in a world where all kinds of crooks hang out. The online world is the same. There are all sorts of crooks and hackers. They range from “script kiddies” (amateur hackers) to cyber criminals to government-sponsored hackers.
This leaves us with a range of people looking for ways to exploit anything they can on the web.
That includes your business website! Or more specifically, the information that travels between your website and its visitors.
Unsecure Website vs Secure Website
With an unsecure website, data travels unencrypted between your website and its visitors. This means that any type of snoop can intercept and read that data.
For example, if someone uses your website’s contact form, a data snoop can read that message.
It is as readable as this article is!
You might not think that reading a contact form message is a big deal. But what if the data includes a credit card number or a password?
Any website with a URL (web address) starting with ‘http’ (http://) sends data in an unencrypted format. Great news for snoops!
A website server can be set up to encrypt all data sent between the website and its visitors.
Websites with URLs starting with ‘https’ (https://) send data in an encrypted state. Such websites use SSL, a secure encryption technology.
In this case, a data snoop will not be able to read that message sent via your website’s contact form.
Google’s Drive To SSL
Data snooping has become such a big problem that Google also got on board with a push towards a more secure web.
Google uses many factors to decide which websites get included in search results.
In 2014, Google announced that SSL would become one of those factors. Websites using SSL encryption would score an extra point and end up higher in search results.
Google’s Chrome browser is one of the most popular browsers in use today. As of 2017, Chrome will start marking non-SSL websites as ‘Not secure’.
How will that make your website visitors feel about your website?
It will start with web pages that use passwords or that collect credit card numbers. Then they plan to expand that warning to all non-SSL websites.
This leaves you with two excellent reasons to switch your website to SSL:
- Your website gets a ranking boost in search results.
- Your website instills trust with your visitors because they know it is safe.
How To Set Up SSL
Switching your unsecure website to SSL is somewhat of a technical issue, but here are the basics…
The first step is to buy a SSL certificate issued by a trusted Certificate Authority. You should be able to buy one via your website hosting company.
The second step is to install your new SSL certificate on your website server. Your website hosting company should be able to help you with this too.
Your website server will then be capable of encrypting your website data.
The next step is to update your website to use ‘https’. This is where you might need help. There are three steps:
- Change all links between your website’s pages to start with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’. This includes URLs to resources used on your website, like images. The best option would be to use a ‘search & replace’ tool to update your links.
- Redirect all website visitors to the ‘https’ version of your web pages. Use ‘301 redirects’ to do this. The ‘301 redirect’ tells search engines that your pages’ URLs have changed. That will prompt them to update their search databases. (This step requires adding a few lines of code to a file on your website. You might need to get help with this.)
- If you use Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools), and you should, inform Google about the change.
You may wonder if it is worth the trouble to do all this. It is!
The Internet is moving towards better security and you don’t want to stay behind. Going with a secure website tells your visitors that their safety is a priority to you.
And that is a message that you definitely want to send!