Weekly Wrap Up – SSL websites

Several clients this week had SSL related website issues. SSL stands for “Secure Socket Layer” and is what secures websites (when you see https:// or the “lock” icon on websites you visit).

Originally running websites over SSL was reserved for ecommerce or sensitive transactions. Normally, web traffic was sent in plaintext, and SSL provides end-to-end encryption of data. Since many people use public WIFI networks these days, many websites have gone to SSL for all traffic. In fact, Google now gives search preference to sites that are running over SSL, and most browsers / plugins give scary warnings if you try browsing a site that is not running with encryption.

Anyway, when converting your website to SSL, there are usually just a few issues to be concerned about. You’ll need to track down any hardcoded references to “http:” in your pages, and change them to https:, or make them relative. Second, you’ll need to add a way to “force” users to load the site using https, usually done with a global redirect to the https version of the site. Overall, it’s not that big a change, however, there is an added yearly cost (around $150) to have the certificate that allows the encryption to work.

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