How to protect your customers and your brand with an SSL certificate

5 min read
Emma Wardill

When you run a business online, building trust with your customers is key if you want them to engage and purchase from you.

You wouldn’t let a shady salesperson into your home and immediately hand over your credit card.

In the same way, prospective customers won’t likely come to your website or want to purchase from you if it doesn’t look safe and authentic.

Example of browser bar on an ssl-protected site

Part of looking safe starts at the top. Chances are, you’ve seen a website domain name with an HTTPS prefix and a little locked padlock next to it.

That padlock and prefix indicates the site has been independently secured with a form of digital certification called an SSL Certificate.

This can be an important first step in protecting your website, particularly if you are building an e-commerce site where you want customers to purchase directly from you.

Related: 4 site security features every online business needs

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between your customer’s web browser and your web server, like a digital tunnel. It uses SSL technology to encrypt all information sent to the server, including:

  • Passwords
  • Banking details
  • Usernames

As a result, hackers can’t “eavesdrop” and steal this data.

Encryption means the data sent to the server is scrambled so that it is unable to be deciphered until it is linked with the proper decryption key.

An SSL certificate is like an official identity document that establishes the online website is authentic.

When someone browsing the internet comes to the website and wants to send confidential or sensitive information, the user’s browser will connect with the server’s certificate to establish a secure connection.

An SSL certificate will include the certificate holder’s name, certificate serial number and expiration date, a copy of the holder’s public key and the digital signature of the authority who issued the certificate.

Why is an SSL certificate important?

In an environment where more Australians are shopping and interacting online and scams are a regular threat, protecting your website can ensure you not only protect yourself but your customers.

An SSL certificate is important to give customers confidence that you have secured your true identity online.

When you are issued an SSL certificate, it means you have been validated by an industry-recognised Certificate Authority.

If you don’t have one, visitors to your website will get a pop-up message flagging your website as “Not Secure,” reducing the likelihood they will want to transact with you.

Close up of a person typing in their banking details

Having an SSL certificate means your business will have strong online protection to keep customer data safe. It means hackers can’t create a false version of your website.

It also opens the door to safe mobile and online payments systems where customers will feel safe to share credit card details, personal identity information, legal or medical records as well as to set up accounts and passwords.

An SSL certificate is the industry standard for encryption to protect both yours and your customers’ sensitive data from hackers.

GoDaddy research has found one in five Australian businesses have experienced a security breach on their website, yet two thirds haven’t purchased security protection for their site.

Not only is a security breach distressing as a business owner, it can also undermine customer confidence.

As a bonus, search engines like Google favour HTTPS-encrypted websites, meaning they will push them higher in search results, helping customers to find you.

What sort of SSL certificates are there?

There are a number of different types of SSL certificates, depending on the type of website and business you have.

A Doman Validation (DV) SSL certificate is the standard level of protection that’s recommended for personal websites. It verifies that you own the domain name associated with the website and can be received in minutes. All you do is purchase and manually install the certificate (at GoDaddy, this is a 5-step process).

A managed DV SSL certificate will be installed and managed by the party you purchase it from, like GoDaddy.

If your organisation or business website doesn’t sell anything, an Organisational Validation (OV) SSL certificate is recommended. It offers a higher level of validation to boost public confidence in the site.

An Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate is the highest level of validation and is recommended for e-commerce sites to protect sensitive customer information. It requires additional steps to ensure the identity of the user behind the domain name, increasing confidence for customers.

Related: 5 e-commerce security tips from the GoDaddy experts

How to get an SSL certificate

An SSL certificate needs be obtained directly from a Certificate Authority, a body that is authorised and trusted to issue these important documents.

GoDaddy is a Certificate Authority and delivers its services via strong public key infrastructure and a global network of data centres. It is a founding member of the Certificate Authority/Browser Forum which works together to help make the internet a safer and more secure space.

If you have tech skills and root access, you may be able to install a free SSL through a service like Let’s Encrypt.

Not a tech expert? No worries. GoDaddy’s team offers a fully managed SSL certificate service.

No matter which certificate you purchase, you will get the benefit of 24/7 expert support via phone, online chat or email to make the process easier.

To learn more about the protection you can get with an SSL certificate via GoDaddy, see more here.