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Web security

Pros and Cons of SSL and TSL Certificates

“WWW” doesn’t stand for Wild Web West.

Modern day web applications need to be secure from any threats, and while the Internet is an open network and anyone is subjected to potential damage, the question is, “How do we prevent or at least minimize this risk?"

Security is more critical than ever. If you care about your business, your users, and want to learn more about one of the basic security measures for the web, you are in the right place!

 

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Encryption

Encryption can sound boring, but it is a great way to boost your business and protect your company from security issues (remember all the news about the Global surveillance disclosures?).

We will see why Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are so important and their pros and cons. If you have never heard about those encryption tools, they are designed to provide communications security over a computer network. In short, they will help you to build a more secure website.

Note: The term SSL became a common and generic term, however, it is a deprecated protocol. We include both terms in this article, but we will refer mainly to the current one, TLS. 

 

Do I need SSL on my website?

Below are some of the Pros and Cons (Spoiler alert: there aren’t many of the latter) of using security measures such as encryption on your site. 

Let's check out the pros first.

 

Encryption

One example, if you visit a website using a public Wi-Fi. Someone could listen to your connection and steal your information. Encrypting data makes sure that only the server with the right credentials can read it.

 

Authentication

Every time we connect to the Internet, we are vulnerable to fake IP addresses that lead us to some unknown servers. SSL/TLS makes sure this doesn’t happen. It authenticates every request, including customer information, and goes to the right server without it being intercepted.

 

Peace of Mind

Site security improves the trust of visitors and customers about your website. This is important, even in SEO. In fact, if a user tries to enter your website and you're still on HTTP, they will get a warning that your site is not secure and that it's inadvisable for them to enter your site.

If you have a security certificate, they will be informed by your website’s URL using “https” instead of “http” and padlock icon next to it on their browser.

 

Financial Transaction

This is a requirement for any payment gateway (Credit Card, PayPal, etc.) so before you monetize you must prioritize security.

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

As mentioned earlier, security is important for SEO. Google introduced the prioritization of websites that are using secure technologies over the others. If you make sure that your site is secure for your customers/visitors, you have more chances to be on top of the results. 

Now, let's discuss the cons. There are three important drawbacks that we must discuss.

 

SSL/TSL Certifications are not Perfect

Although SSL/TSL certificates provide a high level of security, they're not perfect. There have been some high-profile cases of websites with SSL/TSL certificates being hacked.

For example, in 2014, the website of the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform was hacked and over 5 million user records were stolen. The site had an SSL/TSL certificate, but the hackers were still able to access sensitive information.

So, while SSL/TSL certificates can certainly help to secure your website, they're not 100% effective. 

 

They Can Be Expensive

Another downside to using SSL/TSL certificates is that they can be pricey. The cost of a certificate will also depend on the type of certificate you need (there are different types for different purposes) and how many domains or subdomains you need to cover.

If you're on a tight budget, the cost of an SSL/TSL certificate could be an issue.

However, you usually can get one for free from your hosting platform provider. If you don't have one, speak to your developers so you can purchase one for your site.

 

They Can Slow Down Your Site

Another potential drawback to using an SSL/TSL certificate is that it could slow down your website. The encryption process that takes place when someone visits your site can add a slight delay, particularly if your site is large or has a lot of photos or videos.

This might not seem like a big deal, but even a small delay could cause some visitors to leave your site before it even loads! However, there are ways to speed up your site. Head over to PageSpeed Insights to check their recommendations on how to speed up your site.

 

Conclusion

Now that we've discussed the pros and cons, it's clear that it's preferrable for your site to still have that level of protection that only an SSL/TSL certification can give. Although they aren't perfect, it's absolutely still better than not using security and just risking your site and your users because of a few cons.

Concerned about security for your site? Contact us today.