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Your Handy Guide to Securing Your Website with HTTPS: Part One

03/10/2016

It doesn’t need to be said that there are a number of benefits to switching a site from HTTP to HTTPS, but even the while, website owners are still avoiding doing so. Usually, it’s due to the case of it being overwhelming and somewhat intimidating, but there is (thankfully) a plethora of advantages that come with putting in the effort, and as web hosting experts, we’re here to tell you what they are.

Remember—if Google loves it, we all love it

Back in the day, Google announced that HTTPS was a significant ranking signal, all as part of an effort to make the web more secure. Even more so, the search giant has been known to favour secure sites over unsecure ones—just another few reasons why it’s critical to keep your eyes on this secure element.

Primarily, data is sent through the HTTPS gateway known as the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which supplies several layers of protection:

  • Data integrity: information cannot be changed or damaged during the transfer, whether on purpose or not, without it actually being detected.
  • Encryption: The exchanged data is encrypted to ensure it is kept secure from others. This means that any visitor browsing the website is unable to see/listen to conversations, follow activities across the web or steal any data.
  • Authentication: Provides evidence that your user is actually communicating with the official website. This ensures there is no middle-man interfering.

Okay, but what are the benefits?

In a nutshell:

  • Google provides ranking boosts for those that use HTTPS
  • Rectifies the direct vs. referral traffic that can become unclear in analytical programs
  • Prevents unwanted occurrences of injected ads and the like.

Are there any downfalls?

Like most things in life, there’s still a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Your website is not entirely secure when using HTTPS. It can still become vulnerable to downgrade attacks, vulnerabilities to SSL/TLS issues and the like.
  • It can still become a victim of Heartbleed and other viruses.
  • When servers or the network are hacked, it can become affected still
  • DDOS attacks are still able to play a role.
  • If not done correctly, Google may be unable to crawl the HTTP version of the website, which can prevent positive rankings.
  • There may be duplicated content from HTTPS to HTTP versions—a negative ranking factor.
  • Different versions of the page may be shown.

So you’ve got the pros and the cons in a simple breakdown of what exactly this whole thing is all about. But how do you actually get started? Check out part two of this blog post to see where to from here.

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