by Andy Carroll, 30 Jul 2018
UPDATE July 2018
As referenced in this article from 2015 - Google is now alerting visitors to websites that do not encrypt data transmission. If your hosting supports it you should consider installing an SSL certificate to protect your visitors and provide reassurance.
If your website captures visitor information and especially if it allows some form of login, you should carefully consider encrypting your website with an SSL certificate. Allowing your customers to send their passwords over non encrypted channel is increasingly dangerous since the data must pass through the wider internet routers in plain text which can easily be intercepted, recorded or data mined at a later date. The recent leaks about spying demonstrates how easily our data can be compromised and analysed and whilst the security services are unlikely to be too interested with the innocent public, the same can not be said of criminals looking to break into financial systems or abuse email servers. Most people share the same password for all their online accounts so a password breach on a non sensitive website account can lead to more serious breaches on seemingly better protected sensitive systems.
There are strong indicators that Google factors things like user security into ranking results. If Google determines a website or page is insecure, running vulnerable software versions or sending sensitive data over non encryted channels it is highly likely that the ranking will be harmed. In fact Google is very good at analysing if a website has been compromised or if it is running obsolete/vulnerable versions of SSL. If you have a Google Webmaster account setup, these kinds of issues appear as alerts and for serious issues they may also appear on the search results pages to alert visitors.
Basic SSL is usually only a modest addition to your yearly hosting - perhaps $50-$100 per year if your CMS supports SSL. It is also important to ensure the hosting environment is configured to support only the most stable and secure implementations. You can check your SSL configuration for weak or misconfigured setup here.
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