Google’s been on a mission over recent years to make the web more secure for everyone, prioritising websites that use SSL certificates in the search results and generally promoting their use as a security feature. Now they have finally followed on from Firefox’s early lead, and have announced that starting in July this year, websites that don’t use an SSL certificate will get flagged as “not secure” in Google Chrome.
“What is an SSL certificate“, you may ask? Well, in a nutshell is allows you to encrypt (i.e. scramble) the connection between your website and its users. What that means is, any would-be hackers on the same network as you (surprisingly common on public wifi connections) will find any data they intercept has been encrypted and is therefore completely useless. If you aren’t using an SSL certificate, this data will instead be in plain text format, and may contain personal or sensitive information which could be used for any number of illicit and illegal purposes.
As a result of Google’s forthcoming change, it’s effectively going to become mandatory for every website to have an SSL certificate from July onwards in order to avoid this “not secure” notification. By not having an SSL certificate installed, you risk frightening off your website visitors, damaging your brand reputation – being seen as “not secure” could leave a lasting impression in users’ minds – and, at worst, you could be held liable for data protection breaches.
In addition to the Google Chrome issue, with GDPR coming into force in May 2018 you will need to have an SSL certificate installed on any website with a contact form as a legal requirement, so getting one installed now will ensure you are compliant well ahead of the deadline.
Fortunately, SSL certificates are cheaper than ever. Starting from 1st March 2018, we will include a free SSL certificate with all of our new hosting packages, so any new website hosted with us will automatically be seen as secure by Google. For existing clients, we can migrate you over to our new hosting platform at any time, where you can take advantage of a free SSL certificate, or if you are hosted elsewhere and need to have an SSL certificate installed, this is also a service we offer, so please contact us for details.