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October is Cyber Security Month, so this month’s blog posts will cover important safety tips that help keep your WordPress site secure. This week, we will go over why all owners of eCommerce sites (WordPress or other CMS) should have an SSL certificate on their hosting. If you’re not sure if you want to continue reading, then let us warn you that using an eCommerce site without an SSL certificate puts you at a ton of liability and can result in legal action put against you should your site get hacked. If you do not know what an SSL certificate is, continue reading this post to learn what they are and why you absolutely need them if you are performing any type of transaction or handle extremely personal information on your website.
A Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL Certificate is a small data file that simply creates a secure connection between the client (the customer making a purchase) and the server (hosting your website) to ensure that the data being transferred is protected from hackers and other outside threats that could steal this information. Programmers who are up to no good will write bots that can hack your website, break in and steal the sensitive information it is handling and processing. Learn more about what SSL certificates are here.
If your website is an eCommerce site (or any type of site where you have to accept money) where you are selling goods and services and process credit cards to receive payment, you automatically need to have an SSL certificate installed on your server. Needless to say, this is extremely sensitive customer information that hackers would love to steal and use for their own benefit. If you do not have an SSL certificate, one alternative method you can use would be to have your customers complete their transactions using PayPal. PayPal automatically uses secure servers with SSL certificates to transfer payments between your website’s customers and your bank account; by using this method PayPal handles all of the secure information on their servers instead of yours. If you are using the WooCommerce plugin, PayPal can be enabled as a payment gateway on your site.
Even if you are not using an eCommerce website, you may still an SSL certificate if you handle any type of personal information. Do you have any forms on your website where you handle information such as addresses, social security numbers or any type of extremely sensitive information? Then you absolutely should have an SSL certificate on your website. You need to remember that if your website is hacked and you did not have any type of security protecting extremely personal information, hackers will steal that information and you could face legal action from those affected who visited your website.
How can you tell if a website you are using has an SSL certificate? See the following image below:
What should you do if you require the use of an SSL certificate but do not have one? First of all, you should close your site and cease accepting any personal information at once and then contact your hosting provider to add the SSL certificate to your website. Once you have an SSL certificate on your website, you can rest assured that any personal information your website handles is safe.
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