I remember a simpler time in history when I could just take my trash out to a can outside, and not have to worry about somebody combing through it for sensitive information which they could use to steal my identity and wreak havoc in my life. Now I have to go through the extra effort of shedding a lot of the documents that I have in keep vital information from being compromised The world has changed, and privacy is an issue that we are more aware of than ever before.
Now I am worried about my privacy being invaded by someone going through my trash. How much more would I be worried about my privacy if someone was able to go through all the data that I send and receive from the internet? How much of our lives would be available to anyone with the knowledge of how to eavesdrop on our network connection. You may not be aware, but when you see a little green lock in the address bar of your web browser, the data that you are sending and receiving is encrypted.
There are a few terms you will hear thrown around when we’re talking about browser encryption.
The exact technical definitions of the terms are not important for the purposes of this post, but you can think of it like this. You send a letter to your bank. The letter may or may not contain sensitive information, but before your send the letter, it is translated into another language. This is a strange language that cannot be read by anyone, except the bank. The bank alone holds a super secret decoder ring that will allow it to decipher your letter. The same thing happens when the bank sends you a letter in reply. You have your super secret decoder ring that you’re able to use to translate the letter back into a language that you can read.
Having SSL or TLS encryption gives you 3 guarantees when you send your letter to the bank.
What we should take away from this is that it is very important for us to use encryption on our websites. Even if you’re not the bank, you still want to ensure that your communication is not compromised. In years past, SSL was complicated and expensive and was therefore reserved for applications where privacy of the utmost importance. Today there are services which allow us to get SSL certificates for free (https://letsencrypt.org). With a small amount of effort, we can secure our website user’s data, and it makes sense that we do that whenever possible.
Google has also started giving a ranking boost to sites with SSL certificates, and may also start marking sites that do not use SSL as “unsecured” on the search engine results pages. If you want people to visit your site from search engines, you should seriously look at getting SSL encryption on your site.
In recent months, many hosting companies have been installing WordPress using SSL as a default. The industry is moving towards 100% encryption on the web. If you want to start using SSL on your site, contact your web developer, or your hosting company.
Next time you are on your favorite website, and you are signing into an account, or providing contact information, look for the lock. If it’s not there, you might want to think twice about what information you provide.
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