Understanding SSL Certificates

You might be unfamiliar with the term SSL, or maybe someone said your website needs one but you aren’t sure. That’s OK. By the end of this article, you’ll have a basic understanding of SSL certificates, and you’ll know whether you need one.

What’s an SSL?

In simple terms, you purchase a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to protect information that other people enter on your website. For example, an SSL protects the personal data of visitors who sign up for your monthly newsletter and the credit card information of customers who make online purchases.

In a nutshell, you can reassure your online customers and earn their trust by securing your website with an SSL.

For a more in-depth explanation, see What are SSL Certificates?

How’s it work?

An SSL builds a secure, encrypted connection between the visitor’s browser and the Web server. To establish the secure session, the SSL “handshake” process occurs behind the scenes without interrupting the customer’s shopping or browsing experience. Think of an SSL as a lock box that secures valuables (customer information) as it travels across the Internet from the visitor to you.

For further details, see How does an SSL certificate work?

How do I know if I need one?

If visitors or customers enter information on your website, such as names, addresses and credit card numbers, then you definitely need an SSL certificate to protect that information.

If your website does not require anyone to enter information, then you do not need an SSL certificate.

How will people know my website has one?

On every secure Web page, there are visual indicators. First, the browser displays a padlock icon. The location of the icon differs depending on the browser.

Second, you can look at the top-left corner of your browser’s address bar. Have you ever noticed that all websites say https:// or https:// before the website address? Pages that don’t have the “s” are not secured by an SSL certificate. For more information, see HTTP vs. HTTPS.

Not secure: 


There are other visual indicators that vary depending on the type of SSL certificate. Sometimes the address bar turns green and/or a security seal displays. Other times, the Web browser provides a warning when a page isn’t secure.

If you need an SSL certificate, the next step is to learn more about the different types available. For details, see Which SSL do I need? and Getting Started with SSL Certificates.

To find product information, please see our SSL Certificate page.


*Information provided courtesy of GD Support*