All websites on our shared servers have free SSL certificates available, you just need to convert your site to use them.
The certificates are “short term” certificates that are renewed automatically every three months. Because of this, and because this technology is also all rather new, we do recommend purchasing a regular 12 month certificate if your site is an established eCommerce site.
What is SSL?
In case you’re wondering, “SSL” (aka Secure Sockets Layer or sometimes, TLS aka Transport Security Layer) is the magic cryptographic system which allows you to view web pages securely and safely without someone being able to intercept your communication along the way as it travels through the internet. It encrypts traffic between your computer and the remote server which holds your webpage so that it can’t be easily read by others. Mostly, you’ll recognize it as the URL changing to start with “https” and a small (often green) lock symbol displaying in the browser URL bar. These days page without SSL will sometimes have red warnings in the URL bar and we expect that to become more frequent as time passes.
Why use SSL?
Over the last few years, there has been an evolution in the concept of SSL, with a number of initiatives aimed at making websites everywhere more secure against having their traffic “snooped” by malicious third parties or by organizations whose ethics you might have concerns about in the long term. Or understandably, you might just find the concept of someone storing everything you’ve ever done on the internet, forever, a little concerning.
You may have seen the semi-biographical movie “Snowden” (2016), which dramatized the events around Edward Snowden’s release of information designed to highlight how government agencies were retaining data about nearly everybody for nearly forever. Similarly, there was an incident where Google discovered that the main trunk line linking two of it’s data centres had been tapped without consent, or perhaps more accurately, without their full knowledge.
As a result of these events and others, a desire was born to encrypt most communications as they cross through the internet; the intent being that this returns the internet to a higher level of security. Part of the concern is that over time, if government agencies can access our data as it travels over the internet, it’s only a matter of time before organized crime works out how to access it.
Where the industry is headed
Google have taken a number of steps to push the internet towards more widespread use of https. The first step is that Google Chrome, currently the most widely used web browser, now displays “Not Secure” in the URL bar at top if your site does not use https URLs. They plan to make this warning go red, instead of the current grey, in coming months! The other browser providers are taking similar steps. Google has also started to very slightly prioritize search listings for sites that use SSL certificates (https instead of http in the URL). Industry pundits consider it to be very likely that this prioritization will only increase over time. All in all, you can see that the overall push towards using secure URLs is gathering momentum and will only grow over time, so it’s becoming more and more important that website owners convert over to using the new style.
One of the initiatives to allow more encryption was a system called “Let’s Encrypt” which provided free encryption certificates (or cipher codes – also called “SSL Certificates”) for all sites on the internet, renewed every 3 months. cPanel, our control panel provider, has come to an agreement with Comodo, a well known certificate provider, which effectively works the same way; we chose this method as Comodo is better known in the industry. This allows us to supply free and workable SSL certificates for all our shared sites, although we do recommend websites that are serious about eCommerce use a commercial grade certificate.
Need to enable an SSL certificate on your website?
We offer a SSL conversion service which will convert all pages on your website to load over the free certificate that is installed (or get it working with a paid SSL certificate that you have purchased).
If you are interested in that SSL conversion service, contact us using the methods listed below.