In light of the recent media attention surrounding data leaks, high profile hacks and consumer protection online, while you won't always be able to stop an attack or prevent damage if your business is targeted, there are still some measures you can to take to do your best to reassure your customers that you're taking their security seriously when they use your site or services online.
The icing on the cake is that Google even rewards you for taking these measures, as their search algorithm that defines where you appear in Google now takes into account if your website is served securely. So, an easy step to improve your search rankings, reassure and protect your visitors is to get your website an SSL certificate and start serving your website securely.
So what is a 'secure site'?
You can always tell if a website is being served securely or not, a small padlock icon appears in the left hand side of the browser bar next to the website address. This indicates that any interactions you make with the site are encrypted. To see an example of the small padlock, you only have to go as far as google.com. You'll find that almost all online checkout systems are served up securely, but most websites stop there. But, seeing as Google are now rewarding sites who serve their whole site securely by improving search position, it can actually be beneficial to roll this out across your whole site, not just your checkout.
How does it protect my visitors?
Serving your site securely makes it much harder for hackers to execute a number of attacks that can be employed on pages which aren't served securely. The main benefit to your visitors of serving securely is that it eliminates the possibility of malicious users 'eavesdropping' on them if they connect via unsecured wireless networks.
As an example, if a visitor loads your site on a free WiFi connection or 'hotspot' and logs in, purchases something or fills out a contact form, it is sometimes possible for malicious users (or hackers) to see what they are typing into the forms on your site. This means they could potentially gain information such as usernames, passwords, email addresses, telephone numbers, even credit card numbers. All of which could be used to impersonate or defraud your visitors and can quickly be leaked/sold to a large network of other malicious users.
Rank higher in Google
It can be a minefield trying to get noticed online among the millions of other websites, from purchasing industry specific domain types to spending weeks optimising your content. You can end up investing months of time and effort for what can sometimes be a slim return, but by switching how you serve your website, you can easily increase your ranking without spending weeks optimising content and the only cost is an SSL certificate.
How to switch...
Firstly, get yourself an SSL certificate. These come in three different variations; single domain, multi-domain and wildcard certificates. Single domain certificates cover one domain and no subdomains, multi-domain certificates cover up to 210 domains and wildcard certificates cover one domain and unlimited subdomains. Once you've done that, you can begin switching your site to HTTPS, there are a couple of things to remember though:
1, Check that your web server supports HTTPS.
2, Redirect all of your current pages to the HTTPS version and update all of your links.
3, Make sure that all content on your site (e.g images & video) are also served securely.