Website security certificates make the web a safer and more secure environment for online transactions. If you’re interested in learning more about how website security certificates work, we’ve written this article to help you learn more about what they are and how certificate managers help keep the data they protect safe.
What Are SSL Security Certificates?
When an online user logs into a website to manage his or her account, this exchange of information needs to be protected to decrease the risk of sensitive information being stolen or targeted by online criminals. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a global standard security technology that is responsible for encrypting communication between web browsers and web servers. SSL certificates enable websites to move from hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS), which provides for secure communications. These certificates make SSL/TLS encryption possible, as they contain the website’s public key and identity, along with related information. Using SSL allows these exchanges (or conversations) to occur privately between the two intended parties. These certificates (also known as digital certificates) are installed on a web server and serve two important functions:
- They authenticate the identity of the website (ensuring visitors are not on a fraudulent website)
- They encrypt all data exchanged between parties
In general, security certificates protect communication between an online user and a web server. However, there are a few things you should know about them:
1. Certificates Expire
One of the most important things to know about managing certificates is that they expire. It’s vital to know the expiration date of all certificates. The failure to renew certificates can result in system outages. Hackers can also use expired certificates to impersonate your organization’s server. Many organizations still rely on manual processes that leave their sensitive data vulnerable to online crime. New data breaches happen every year. The majority of these breaches are caused by expired certificates that lead to server outages or prevent a data breach from being detected.
2. Expired Certificates Incur Costs
While many companies take Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) for granted, it’s important to know new search engines like Google have set important standards to ensure everything is protected with certificates. Inadequate certificate management systems can lead to significant downtime, increased emergency response costs for an organization, and harm to the brand name. For larger organizations, the average cost per certificate outage is approximately $15 million. Indirect costs result from a reduction in consumer trust and a decrease in overall sales.
3. Certificates Require Lifecycle Management
All businesses should manage digital certificates across all networks to ensure protection and prevent security failure. Appropriate certificate management will identify an issue with any security certificate and locate it on time. Certificate lifecycle management will ensure all compliance standards are met and increase efficiency. It is more important now than ever to have the right tools to track and manage digital certificates. These certificates need to be replaced at the end of their lifecycle to avoid service disruptions and security risks. When certificates fail, it can lead to online criminals gaining access to sensitive company and customer data. This access can harm brand reputation, consumer trust and confidence, and sales. Many companies still use manual processes that leave sensitive data vulnerable to exploitation. Appropriate certificate lifecycle management accounts for all PKI certificates and ensures information such as locations, owners, applications, expiry dates, and signatures are recorded.
Manage your website security certificates effectively
As you can see, website security certificates are an important part of doing business online today. A current SSL certificate not only will reassure visitors that you take their privacy seriously, but it will signal to search engines, such as Google, that your site is well-maintained and responsibly run. With some basic planning, you can easily keep your certificates current and provide the security web users need.
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