SSL should be a minimum requirement for any strategy on cybersecurity
SSL isn’t just a smart decision when you start developing a cybersecurity strategy for your website — it’s really a requirement.
That’s right before we get into the real merits of getting encryption, we ‘re going to continue with the fact that SSL will finally become a requirement for all sites in 2017.
You see, within the expanding internet industry, the browser community is well placed to incorporate changes that impact the entire sector. Think about it, without browsers, you can’t access the world’s web — they are an integral part of the internet ecosystem.
And this is acutely known to the browser community, which is why it will occasionally act in unison to push for some initiative. It’s now agreed, for example, to make encryption a default safety requirement.
The browsers have done this in subtle ways, up to this level. They have rewarded sites which implement SSL with advanced browser features, SEO ranking boosts and access to HTTP/2 instead of forcing anyone to do anything. The apps are likely to avoid being so nice in 2017. For now on they will deliberately mark every unencrypted site as “Not Safe.”
And it will look subtle by mid-2017 when the browsers begin to enforce intrusive alerts about unencrypted pages that will deliberately discourage users from visiting them. Sure, Google and Mozilla aren’t putting a gun on anyone’s head forcing them to encrypt — they’re just threatening to shut down those sites. Imagine what negative visual indicators and obstructive browser warnings will do for traffic on those sites — and their conversion rates by extension.
So, SSL is now a de facto requirement, without officially coming out and mandating it.
But even if you don’t like being twisted by your arm-who does? – There are still many good reasons why you can use encryption given what the browsers say.
Let’s look at what is encryption, and what it does, and then discuss why you need it.
What exactly is Encryption?
Encryption is a process in which communication is encoded using PKI and the SSL / TLS protocol, so that it can be decoded only by an authorized party.
The reason this is important stems from the way the internet was developed using the HTTP protocol initially. HTTP is just as old as the Internet, or the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the communication protocol that allows the communication and display of information in an intended way by web servers and web browsers. If you visit a site, the way it appears in your browser doesn’t exist. Rather, it exists as a bunch of code sent to your browser, and then visually arranged as intended by the designer.
The HTTP problem is it’s not safe. So anyone who knows how (which is a group that includes hackers and cyber criminals) can essentially spy on any Internet-based HTTP connection. In terms of laymen, that means a third party can read and exploit correspondence between clients and servers readily over HTTP.
A rocket scientist doesn’t need to find out why that’s not a perfect setup.
Encryption takes care of this by providing HTTPS, the encrypted variant of HTTP, over websites. Connections are encrypted via HTTPS, meaning the communication exchanged over them is secure. It avoids third-party surveillance. If you’re doing business online , meaning that you’re taking customer personal or financial data, you ‘re obviously NEED encryption or you’re putting your customers at risk.
How Is Encryption Working?
We will spare you the truly technical details and give you a cursory explanation of how encryption works, instead. This begins when a client has an SSL Certificate enabled to access a website.
Then the client and the web server continue with the so-called SSL Handshake. The browser is verifying in the early stages that the certificate is legitimate — meaning that it was issued by a trusted Certificate Authority, that it is still valid, and that it belongs to the site on which it is displayed.
After the client verifies that the certificate is valid it negotiates with the web server the terms of an encrypted link.
Now, when you think about encryption there are two key pairs that come up. The first is a pair of key asymmetrics: the public and private key. These are not the keys that perform the bulk of the encryption, they are for authentication instead. When the browser checks the SSL Certificate ‘s legitimacy, one of the things it does is check to make sure that the SSL Certificate in question is the legitimate public key owner. It does this by encrypting a tiny throwaway packet of information using the public key. If the server can then use the corresponding private key to decrypt and send back the information, then it has proved to be the rightful owner of the public key, and all checks out.
If not, then the certificate is considered “not trusted.”
The other key pair is symmetric, the “Session Keys.” These keys are created after the SSL Certificate’s validity has been developed and the encryption terms have been negotiated. Whereas a public key can encrypt only and a private key can decrypt only, both functions can be performed by session key.
Session keys are actually smaller, and by default less stable, than their asymmetric counterparts, but they’ll allow them for the sake of the encrypted connection — they’re still powerful enough.
During the remainder of their stay the client and server must use the session keys to communicate. The session keys are discarded upon leaving the web, and the next time the user visits a new session key is created.
How Do I Require Encryption?
In the past, it was commonly believed that encryption is required only on websites that deal with personal information.
This is wrong.
Even small websites that do not collect any information should be encrypted as well as now required. Why? For what? Ok, beyond simple good management measures, there is the tiny information of your access to the back-end. You see, even though you don’t sign your guests into your site — you always do. You probably have a control panel or some sort of back-end login that lets you make changes to your website. Does that not have to be secured? Otherwise, your credentials and mess can be quickly stealed from your website.
Sure, may the worst thing anyone can do is creep on and load a picture of a phallus on your homepage. But still, that could have prevented a little bit of security. Why do they let this happen?
Besides that, any company or association that maintains a web site should have both data encryption and authentication as a legitimate business. After all, it’ll be more critical than ever to stand out in a coming age where every site has encryption.
Look, SSL is pretty inexpensive and it’s going a long way to securing your website and your customers. It builds confidence. It can even heighten conversions.
The internet can be a dangerous place; it is made a little easier by SSL Encryption.
There is really no way around it. You need to have the encryption.