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Cybercriminal attacks are getting more and more sophisticated. If your business's site doesn't have an SSL certificate you are putting your reputation and your site's visitors at risk. In this blog, we will be covering:

What is an SSL Certificate?

The Types of SSL Certificates

Why do SSL Certificates Vary in Cost?

How to Pick an SSL Certificate Provider

If your business's website doesn't have an SSL certificate, we can help. Book a call today.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates are a vital part of internet security, especially when your business needs to have an online presence. SSL certificates secure your domain, providing your online visitor's security, which is paramount.  You need to create a secure environment that makes clients and potential customers confident in your business. Position your business as a trusted and secure resource- an SSL certificate helps you do that in two essential ways:

  1. It provides an encrypted link between the user and the server hosting your particular service. This is vital when exchanging sensitive information like personal information and housing financial transactions.
  2. It provides proof of identity. Verifying that the site they are on is owned and operated by the correct owners and has not been spoofed. How to check this: When you view the certificate (click on the padlock next to the URL)–The company name should match the website

As technology advances, so does the sophistication of cybercriminals attacks. We have seen business's websites spoofed or redirected which causes a lot of grief for the business, their clients, and their potential clients. In fact, as a result, Google Chrome and other browsers will now penalise (and potentially block) any website that does not have an SSL certificate. Check to make sure your URL begins with https:// not just http://. The S indicated that the website does have an SSL certificate. If you don't have one, we can help you get one- book a call with us today.

Types of SSL Certificates

Not all SSL Certificates are equal. There are essentially 2 types of SSL Certificate generally available now:

  1. Single Name Certificates (for only one service/host server) - e.g. www.companyname.com.au OR service.companyname.com.au, etc.
  2. Wild Card Certificates (for use on multiple services/host servers) - e.g. www.companyname.com.au AND service.companyname.com.au, etc. Wildcards, of course, are more expensive, but if you have more than 2 or 3 services they can be cost-effective.

SSL certificates can only now be purchased for 1 year periods, so make sure to renew it every year.

Why the Varying Costs for SSL Certificates?

There are definitely cheaper options out there for SSL certificates. However, you do get what you pay for.

As we outlined above, SSL certificates are not all the same. Having a cheaper SSL usually provides minimum encryption and trust, and is considered the bare minimum when it comes to protecting your website and it's visitors. The more expensive the SSL the more protection it provides. We can help you weigh your options and find the right provider for your business.

Which SSL Provider Should I Pick?

We have put together a checklist to help you decide on the best SSL provider for you:

1. Do they properly validate the identity of the SSL purchaser? This is a manual, slower process to ensure that the purchaser of the "www.CONTOSO.com.au" SSL certificate actually is CONTOSO and not an imposter. They also include your business name on the certificate. Cheaper providers simply do not have the infrastructure for this important step, or they skip it or do a very basic check = Lower Trust = the main reason for a cheaper price.

2. Is there a warranty offered to users of your internet services? Warranty is an insurance for an end-user against loss of money when they make a payment on an SSL-secured site. This is very important for e-commerce sites but is also important if personal data is being submitted to the secure site. e.g. GoDaddy offers only a limit of $1000 to end users against loss of money when submitting a payment on an SSL-secured site. = Lower Trust Our preferred provider comes with a $1 million warranty.

3. Are you buying the SSL from a registered Trusted Certificate Authority or just a wholesaler? Is the provider simply a mass wholesaler of other people's SSL's or do they directly stand behind it and offer the service themselves? Trusted Certificate Authorities are organisations that have earnt trust globally (and by all web browsers) to safely and securely provide secure identities. There are only 8 actual Trusted Certificate Authorities in the world. Our preferred provider is one of these Trusted Authorities and offers 24X7 support.

4. What Level of Encryption is provided? What level of encryption is provided to protect the data in transit over the public internet- 128-bit / 256-bit? This encryption means how easy is it for a hacker to grab the sensitive information. The standard now is 256-bit - which is a lot harder to hack.

5. Is the SSL Certificate guaranteed to Work on All Devices? Has the certificate been verified to work on all devices that may connect? e.g. smartphones and tablets? Some providers do not - though this is becoming less common.

As an internationally ISO27001 accredited organisation, Sensible Business Solutions takes security very seriously.

We have to go out of our way to ensure the systems and suppliers we deal with have best practices in place, offer business-grade support, etc. The choice is up to you - but we will always be able to help you with the systems we recommend.

If you need more assistance, give us a call, we're happy to lend our expertise to your organisation.

Very few internet users understand the meaning of the padlock icon in their web browser’s address bar. It represents HTTPS, a security feature that authenticates websites and protects the information users submit to them. Let’s go over some user-friendly HTTPS best practices to help you surf the web safely.

HTTPS Encryption

Older web protocols lack data encryption. When you visit a website that doesn’t use HTTPS, everything you type or click on that website is sent across the internet in plain text. So, if your bank’s website doesn’t use the latest protocols, your login information can be intercepted by anyone with the right tools.

HTTPS Certificates

The second thing outdated web browsing lacks is publisher certificates. When you enter a web address into your browser, your computer uses an online directory (called DNS) to translate that text into numerical addresses (e.g., www.google.com = 8.8.8.8) then saves that information on your computer so it doesn’t need to check the online directory every time you visit a known website.

The problem is, if your computer is hacked it could be tricked into directing www.google.com to 8.8.8.255, even if that’s a malicious website. Oftentimes, this strategy is implemented to send users to sites that look exactly like what they expected, but are actually false-front sites designed to trick you into providing your credentials.

HTTPS created a new ecosystem of certificates that are issued by the online directories mentioned earlier. These certificates make it impossible for you to be redirected to a false-front website.

What this means for daily browsing

Most people hop from site to site too quickly to check each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, HTTPS is way too important to ignore. Here are a few things to consider when browsing:

  • If your browser marks a website as “unsafe” do not click “proceed anyway” unless you are absolutely certain nothing private will be transmitted.
  • There are web browser extensions that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites (HTTPS Everywhere is great for Chrome and Firefox).
  • HTTPS certificates don’t mean anything if you don’t recognise the company’s name. For example, goog1e.com (with the 'l' replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trustworthy site.

Avoiding sites that don’t use the HTTPS protocol is just one of many things you need to do to stay safe when browsing the internet. When you’re ready for IT support that handles the finer points of cybersecurity like safe web browsing and preventing trick DNS addresses, give our office a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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