Consumers have grown increasingly comfortable with conducting sensitive business online, like transferring money, purchasing goods and booking services. All of this is only possible because of website security that keeps their data safe.
A number of visual cues tell us if a website is secure, like the green padlock icon in the address bar and the website address beginning with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’.
Browsers like Chrome clearly state in the address bar if a website is secure. These markers indicate it’s safe to enter our personal data.
The term for this kind of website security is SSL, which stands for ‘secure sockets layer’. SSL establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser, ensuring all data passed between them is private. It is widely used on the internet for the secure passage of highly sensitive information like credit card numbers, names, phone numbers and addresses. Major banks, retailers, government services and social media platforms all utilize SSL to secure their websites for their millions of customers. Without this technology, it would be impossible to utilize the services we use every day.
SSL certificates utilize a public and private key pair that work together to establish an encrypted connection. The public key is used by the website to encrypt any information that is transmitted, while the private key is used by the server to ‘unlock’ that information. If a hacker intercepts the data while it’s in transit between the website and server, the data will be unintelligible.
To be SSL secured, a website must be issued an SSL certificate by a Certificate Authority. While anyone can create a certificate, browsers only trust certificates that are issued by reputable Certificate Authorities.
So, should lawyers and law firms be implementing SSL into their websites?
The short answer is yes, they should. Here’s why.
A premium is increasingly being placed on websites that implement SSL. Browsers visually indicate that a website is secure and conversely, unsecure websites are identified to the user in red font in the browser bar. Because of this emphasis on what is and isn’t secure, consumers are growing to associate trustworthiness with these visual cues and may abandon websites that are not deemed secure.
If your website transmits sensitive data such as email addresses, phone numbers or names, consider implementing SSL to protect your clients’ privacy.
If your website transmits financial data, such as through an online payment portal, you absolutely must implement SSL to mitigate the real security risk of hacking and data theft, which would be disastrous for your clients and your firm.
The other benefit to implementing SSL is that you’ll improve the trust between you and your client, as well as their overall web experience with your firm. This is great for your reputation, which is a powerful factor in growing your client base. Finally, you can have the confidence you won’t encounter any embarrassing or damaging security issues in the future.