An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate is a datafile containing a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and also enables encryption of the data sent between the website and the user’s browser. Once the certificate is installed on the web server, clients will be able to connect to the website using the HTTPS protocol.
So, in english, SSL provides two important features:
First, it enables encryption of data sent to and from the website which helps to protect personal and financial data such as credit card info and login credentials from eavesdroppers. This means that as data transits the internet between a user’s browser and the website server that malicious users cannot easily decrypt the data being sent.
Secondly, it also authenticates the identity of the website to the user of the website. This is important because hackers can set up a malicious website that pretends to be another such as a your bank’s site to trick you into entering your bank login information. This type of attack called Man in the Middle (MITM) is particularly easy to implement with public open Wifi connections. SSL can help prevent this since the hacker’s malicious website won’t have the proper SSL certificate.
The majority of websites are currently using SSL/HTTPS to protect only web pages that handle sensitive information but as the number of malicious sites has increased it’s now recommended by most security experts to protect an entire site with SSL. In fact Google is now encouraging this by bumping up a website’s ranking if it requires HTTPS. This won’t instantly make your website number one in the Google rankings but it does help and also helps to protect your customers browsing experience as well. WIth todays powerful servers the impact of enabling HTTPS for your website should be negligible.
SSL Certificates are issued for a fixed period of time, generally 1 or more years after which they expire and are no longer valid. It’s therefore important that you start the certificate renewal process prior to expiration so the new certificate can be installed before the old one expires. SSL vendors will of course send an email when this is about to occur but in these days of copious spam and employee turnover these emails can be easily overlooked.
Once your certificate expires, visitors to your site will receive a serious warning from their browser that the site is untrusted. Many users will likely not understand the warning leading to:
Reduction in trust as your site is labeled as possibly insecure
Decrease in sales and revenue
Decline in company brand and reputation
Your users may experience:
Confusing error message possibly leading them to leave your site and browse to a competitors website
Lost confidence in your brand, error messages never look good
Personal information at risk due to man in the middle attacks leading to increased susceptibility to fraud and identity theft.
And expired certificates can happen to any company large or small. In fact in 2013 an expired SSL certificate caused a long service outage for Microsoft’s Azure web service platform impacting many customers including XBox users. Many other large companies have experienced similar issues due to expired SSL certificates.
So monitoring your SSL certificate in addition to your webpages just makes sense and it's really easy to do.
You can set up monitoring in minutes, just login to the console, add an SSL monitor and tell us the url of your website and how many days in advance of expiration you want to start being notified. We’ll check your site every day to confirm the validity of your certificate and start to alert you when its about to expire. You’ll also see the number of days till expiration in the elkMonitor.com console.
Set-up only takes a few minutes. And we don’t require any credit card information to get started. Sweet!
Sign up for a free 30-day trial to experience peace of mind from elkMonitor.com.