These days, most websites have a secure connection between the web host and the end-user. This is known as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption.
It has become an increasingly common practice to secure sites with SSL. It doesn’t just look good, it protects users browsing behaviours from being intercepted, it keeps the flow of information between the browser and website secure (for example account registrations or personal details used in a checkout process) and improves trust between companies and individuals.
For most people, the only thing that is apparent about SSL is that sometimes you get a nice green padlock in your browser, but in reality, the world of SSL is more complicated and has a wider impact on end-users and their perceptions than you might imagine.
In 2015, Google started to downrank sites that were not secured with SSL in favour of websites secured with encryption. This would mean that audiences might not be able to find an unsecured website. After all, being on page 2 of the search results is almost as good as not being there.
'Not secure' messages
In June 2018, Google subsequently announced that the Chrome browser would start to mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”, something that users with different levels of technical knowledge interpreted in various ways, from indifference to minor panic.
Other browsers have introduced different ways of notifying you that a site isn’t secure, ranging from different types of messaging right through to making the user take action and type their password in order to disregard the message and visit a site.
These factors, while prudent for the future of the web, introduce a sort of two-tier internet for those who find it too difficult or expensive to implement SSL. Free SSL certificates are available using services such as Let’s Encrypt on some hosting platforms, but other hosting companies have been slow to implement this feature, as they can still charge upwards of £25 a year for a certificate – sometimes reaching as high as £500 a year.
This is why, for all our clients, we feature a basic SSL certificate as standard on all web hosting. Especially given the above, we feel strongly that this feature should be a basic requirement for all web hosts.
We also help our clients implement SSL on their existing hosting packages if they prefer.