Data Security in the Ecommerce world – Is SSL an Answer?

Judy Robinson

When it comes to data security, it is necessary for Ecommerce websites to earn their target audience’s trust. One way of making this possible is by acquiring, integrating, and effectively using an SSL certificate. Without said certificate, there is no way to secure the communication that takes place between a user and an Ecommerce website.

Understanding Encryption

Encryption is necessary to keep secrets and protect data from unauthorized personnel. It may seem like something out of a movie. It is often shown as an impenetrable obstacle that can not be dealt with without keys. Or it might seem like a simple challenge that can be solved with a few progress bars and rapid typing.

Believe it or not, you encounter encryption on the web all the time. Web browsers and websites are configured to accept SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which encrypts traffic to prevent cyber-criminals from listening or understanding the data being communicated back and forth.

While communicating over an SSL link, your social security number, passwords, credit card numbers, and other private and confidential information is protected. This is exactly why so many Ecommerce websites invest in data security services. They have to protect staggering amounts of sensitive data, so a single breach could be devastating.

Importance of an SSL Link

To create an SSL link, your web browser will first verify the site you wish to visit. It will make sure the site is authentic. Skipping this step can possible lead to a MitM (man-in-the-middle) attack. MitM attacks makes it easier for cyber-criminals to access encrypted data so that they can insert themselves in the middle.

Without a certificate to verify an Ecommerce website, users could connect to cyber-criminals instead. What follows is a loop created by cyber-criminals, connecting to the website to pretend as if they are the user. It is worth noting though that the cyber-criminal will still not be able to read the data being transmitted, as it is secured by end-to-end encryption. What it does for them is give them time to decrypt data as it flows between the user and the website.

Overview of an SSL Certificate

If it is not obvious enough, an SSL certificate can easily prevent MitM attacks on your Ecommerce website. It ensures internet users connect to websites they intend to in the first place. This is possible via trust delegation. The accessed website provides a certificate by a reliable certificate authority. Once provided, and only once provided, will the browser trust the website.

There are quite a few certificate authorities out there. Popular browsers support most of them. There are occasions where browsers may remove a specific certificate authority if deemed untrustworthy.

Seeing how no two certificate authorities are the same, the same can be said about the certificates themselves as well. Keeping this in mind, here are a couple of certificate varieties for your consideration:

Domain Validation

This is one of the least expensive certificates you can get your hands on. It covers the basic in terms of verification and encryption for the ownership of the domain name registration. You can attain this in a few minutes.

Organization Validation

This certificate is a size-able undertaking. Apart from basic encryption for the ownership of the domain registration, it requires additional authentication details like the address and the name of the owner. To acquire such a certificate, it can take several hours, or even days for that matter.

Extended Validation

This certificate provides the highest level of security. It comes with authentication for the ownership of the domain name registration and verifies operational, physical existence of the entity in question. To acquire this certificate, it can take several weeks.

How Can Ecommerce Websites Protect Users?

If your Ecommerce website lacks the ability to generate encrypted connections, your customers will not be warned about untrustworthy SSL connections. However, there could be other warnings. For example, Chrome alerts users before they are about to send passwords or sensitive information through unencrypted connections. Furthermore, businesses are now moving towards custom data integration and have dropped traditional data integration methods as the risk is higher than ever.

Without encryptions, cyber-criminals will be able to read credit card information, passwords, and other sensitive information that a user sends to a website. Before you buy an SSL certificate for your Ecommerce website, here are a couple of factors you need to consider:

Credit Card Information

Online merchants will require customers to pay using their credit cards, or any other electronic payment option available. It is important for them to ensure that no one intercepts this information during transit.

Ecommerce websites that need credit card information will process them by charging it manually on a merchant account or an offline POS (Point of Sale) machine. With an SSL encryption, credit card information flowing through the customer’s browser and their preferred Ecommerce website will be protected.

Third Party Payment Gateway

For third party payment platforms such as PayPal, you will not necessarily need SSL encryption. However, it will improve the integrity of your cyber security system. Just make sure your customers are able to see HTTPS or the green address bar while entering their credit card information before they are forwarded to the payment gateway.

Login Forms

Websites requiring login forms i.e. usernames and passwords, require an SSL encryption to prevent third parties from taking the identities of the user.  With most people using the same passwords over and over again across websites, they risk exposing all their accounts. If you worry that this will happen to your customers, invest in cheap SSL certificates for login forms.

Shopping Ads

Also referred to as product listing ads, shopping ads on Bing/Google play an important role to generate business for your Ecommerce website. To run shopping ads on Google, your website’s checkout process must be secure with an SSL certificate.

SSL Certificates are a Necessity

SSL certificates provide an extra layer of security, as they protect from different kinds of online threats. This extra layer of security prevents cyber criminals from accessing and stealing information from users. In this day and age, Ecommerce websites and companies that handle sensitive information need to have an SSL certificate.

A few years ago, Google highlighted the importance of HTTPS for improved rankings. Since Google is the biggest advocate for online security, they pushed for HTTPS. This move just goes to show that Google is all up for promoting and encouraging a safer internet. They even tend to reward websites that make the internet a safer place for everyone.

With Google giving security top priority when it comes to ranking websites, it is not difficult to see why unsecured sites are ranked lower than ever before.


You are now already well aware of how SSL certificates keep websites safe. However, you may have heard of terrible stories regarding massive breaches on big companies. You have certainly heard of all the passwords, emails, and credit card number trusting customers have lost. Due to this, online customers think twice about giving their personal information online.

Websites with SSL certificates display symbols like a padlock image on the URL bar, which serves as proof that the website is secure. Moreover, these websites will also start with HTTPS instead of HTTP, which verifies the domain is secure too. Basically, these symbols represent trust.

According to research, users leave sites that do not have a padlock symbol or green bar. They will go to competitors that have an SSL certificate. By choosing to invest in a secure site, you will see a considerable increase in web traffic and conversions.

Now that you know of the importance of SSL certificates, you should make use of it for your Ecommerce website. Of course, there is a lot more to it than just investing in SSL certificates. However, these certificates have the capacity of saving your business from a lot of trouble.

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