Website security is a priority, be it a profitable e-commerce site or a non-profit website of an organization. Cyber-criminals are roaming everywhere, waiting for an opportunity to grab sensitive data from websites for fulfilling their desires.
It doesn't matter whether the site they hack, is profitable or non-profitable; what matters to these fraudsters is that they can make gains by hacking any site.
Though charitable organizations with non-profit websites sell products and services for a good cause, these sites do include donation pages, social media links, financial transactions, etc. in their webpages, which are exposed to risk by hackers.
Hence this information must be in a coded form (encrypted form) for securing customer and financial data on these websites.
What is SSL?
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) being a security protocol used for securing the information on the internet by using encryption technology. SSL certificate is an extra level of protection mainly used for securing websites.
SSL certificate, when installed on a website, encrypts all the sensitive data like card information, bank account number, and social security numbers, etc. which is communicated between servers and browsers.
Hackers find it challenging to penetrate encrypted (coded) information, and hence they abandon sites having SSL certificates.
How to get Free SSL Certificate?
Many companies must be unaware of server security coming free of cost. Many non-profit Certificate Authorities provide free SSL certificates for securing business.
Free SSL Certificate helps non-profit organizations secure their websites for free, by providing SSL certificates free of cost.
If your business is registered as a non-profit organization, you can apply for free SSL to these Certificate Authorities for your server security.
They will verify your organization details and other criteria before issuing free SSL for your non-profit website.
What is HTTPS?
In today's digital era, HTTPS is a symbol of trust, authenticity, and security.
HTTPS and SSL certificate are intertwined with each other because, when an SSL certificate is installed on a website, its URL changes from "http://" to https:// i.e., from a non-secured website to a secured one.
A green padlock also appears in the address bar. In short, HTTPS gives your customers a secure encrypted network.
Chrome browser has started labelling all "http" sites as non-secure, and Google has started rating "https" sites higher in SEO rankings.
Your non-profit website will have a SERP boost when SSL is installed on each page of your site.
How does SSL work?
When a browser connects itself to an SSL secured website, it first checks the authenticity of the SSL certificate. Hence it communicates with the web server by sending a message. In return, the server sends a digital acknowledgement for the same.
Now all the data transmitted between the browser and server will be in an encrypted format, and hence will be safe from prying eyes.
The SSL process works as follows:
• A browser tries to connect to a website (i.e. a web server) protected with SSL. The browser asks a web server to recognize itself.
• The web server transmits its SSL certificate copy to the browser.
• The browser assures whether SSL certificate is authenticated or not. If so, it sends back a message to the webserver.
• The web server sends a digitally signed acceptance and asks for an encrypted session.
• Now, encrypted data is shared between the browser and the webserver.
How to know if a website is secure or not?
When a website shows the trust signals which are visible on the installation of SSL certificate, i.e., Https in URL and green padlock in the address bar, it is a proof that the site is a secured one.
Even Chrome browser shows "Not Secure" in the URL with a red triangle on HTTP sites.
It's a warning that this site is not secured, so don't trust sites starting with HTTP, because they can be very easily compromised, and cyber thieves can steal your confidential data.
Is SSL Really Important?
Before we come to an answer, let's check the importance of an SSL certificate from the owner as well as the customer's point of view.
For Business Owner:
• Do you want your site to be hacked?
• Do you wish for financial damages by web fraudsters?
• Do you wish your customer data is stolen?
• Do you wish your business to end before it starts?
For Customer who visits your site:
• Do you wish to enter your sensitive information on non-secured sites?
• Do you wish your information is misused by hackers?
In both cases, the answer to all questions is a big NO. Hence, it's proven that SSL security is essential for your website.
You will miss out on network traffic and SEO rankings if your site does not have an SSL certificate.
Keep your website safe from cyber thieves by installing SSL security.
How to secure your website?
Installation of free SSL for your website is easy, but the hosting provider of your non-profit website must offer free SSL certificates.
Many WordPress hosting companies (BlueHost, HostGator, SiteGround, etc.) provide free SSL along with hosting plans.
Many WP plugins like SSL Zen or Auto-Install Free SSL are also available which can be installed and activated on your site.
However, if you are a non-technical person, then it is better to contact customer support of your SSL provider. On the contrary, you can continue with self-installation of SSL certificate.
Why should you care about SSL Certificates?
• Your non-profit website needs to be a verified identity for donors to trust your site with donations or for customers who purchase your site products. Hence identity verification of the website is essential, which is fulfilled by the installation of SSL.
• The first step for issuance of an SSL certificate involves verification of the website. The verification process is conducted by CA, who checks the legitimacy of the site and organization, including employees before issuing the SSL certificate.
• SSL protects all the information transmitted between the website and browser with robust 256-bit encryption. This encrypted data can be decrypted only by the receiver leaving alone the hackers.
• It's a myth if trustees of your non-profit organization feel that SSL is essential only if monetary transactions take place. The reason is that all the best browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. have started labelling all "Http" sites as not secure. To prevent this warning from being displayed on the address bar, and to save your online image from being damaged by this warning, SSL security is a must.
• Many times, fake users trap customers by making identical fake sites and tricking them for their money. This is called phishing, and SSL security is a kick to such phishing scams since it involves a verification process. So, users are aware that SSL secured sites are genuine ones that can be trusted with financial dealings.
• Further, SSL is compulsory as per PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance if you are accepting online finances for donations or other online purchases.
• Since trust and SSL security go hand in hand, your non-profit website is expected to have more visitors, more traffic, and more finances for a noble cause, than your competitors.
• Even Google has declared that HTTPS sites will have a better ranking in SEO than HTTP sites. The motto is to encrypt the whole web and provide a secure web environment for all customers. So, go for HTTPS for your non-profit website, and keep it on the top of SEO ranks for better visibility and better traffic.
Though anti-virus software and firewalls protect your site against fraudsters, an SSL certificate is another secure layer of encryption security.
It not only protects your non-profit website but also attracts visitors and network traffic by displaying reliability and authenticity.