What is an SSL?
Last June I wrote a post about the need for SSL certificates. You can read it here: What is an SSL and why you need it.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer, a standard security technology) is a security measure that reduces the risk of information being stolen from your site by encrypting the sensitive data being collected and keeping it safe. When an SSL certificate is installed on your site, the url will display ah https instead of an http.
Who needs an SSL?
Who needs it? On what kind of site? When should it be installed?
Well, Google is taking an action that marks the point in time when site owners must decide whether or not to purchase an SSL certificate and have it installed on their sites.
Beginning this month — January 2017 — Google is marking website pages viewed on Chrome browsers that collect passwords or credit cards details as “Not Secure” unless the page has an “https” in the url. “The warnings/notifications are just the first step in Google’s long-term plan to mark all pages served over the non-encrypted HTTP protocol as Not Secure” (Website Magazine – 12/27/16).
Additionally, WordPress has announced that it no longer recommends any host that doesn’t provide https.
The goal is ultimately for all websites — WordPress and non-Wordpress sites — to have additional layers of encryption for security. If you are collecting sensitive personal information, credit cards details, have an e-commerce site, or collect passwords, I highly recommend you contact your hosting service and have them install an SSL certificate on your site.
If you are not collecting sensitive information, I believe you can wait a little longer, but eventually you should have the certificate installed on your site.
What else you should know about encryption
One additional piece of interesting information: Google may give your site a boost in ranking with SSL, albeit it a temporary boost.
Another interesting tidbit is that SSL certificates build a sense of security among customers about the authenticity and intent of online businesses, and allow them to be comfortable knowing the transaction process is safe and secure.
NOTE: because of the addition layers of encryption an SSL brings with it, you may find that your site has slowed down somewhat. If this occurs, consider adding a caching plugin to your site to speed it up.