SSL Certificates – Do You Need One For Your Site?

By FredrickHobbs

SSL stands for secure socket layer and is a protocol for managing the secure interactions between a web browser and a web server; it works by encrypting such information as credit card numbers, logins, passwords and the like. Banks and online merchants use SSL to maintain the security of their websites.

If you sell products or services directly from your site and except credit card payments it’s a good idea to have SSL; it instills confidence in your customers by making them feel safe to use their credit cards on your website. SSL is also necessary if you have created a Canvas or Page Tab app in facebook, such as a welcome page. Facebook requires secure connections to ensure all those using HTTPS (SSL cert.) still have the same functionality of HTTP users (non-secured).

Before you can begin you will need to verify that your hosting account supports SSL. You will also need to purchase an SSL certificate from a retailer; be aware that there are many grades of SSL certificates to choose from, most people will do fine with the basic level. Once you’ve purchased a certificate you will need to install it onto your server.

There are a number of methods to install SSL onto your server depending on the type of software your hosting company uses. This article will go over installing SSL using cPanel. CPanel is a web-based administration tool that is supplied by many hosting companies and is used to setup and control a web page or site.

Private Keys

The first step is to create a private key. A private key is a string of characters that a computer uses to encode or decode encrypted messages it receives. The private key file must be used with the specific SSL certificate for which it is created. This private key is secret and should not be given out. There is no way to recover a private key file if it is lost.

  1. Login to your cPanel control panel, the information on how to do this was supplied by your hosing company.
  2. Click on SSL / TLS Manager Icon in the security window.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and select the domain name you want the SSL installed on.
  4. Select the key size, the bigger the key the more secure.
  5. Finally, click Generate to create your new key and click “Return to SSL Manager”.

SSL Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

A CSR is a request which you send to a certificate retailer asking them to grant you an SSL certificate. You must have a key before generating a CSR.

  1. Under “Generate a New Certificate Signing Request” select the Host; the site the SSL is to be installed on.

Fill in all the required information

  1. Country
  2. State
  3. City
  4. Company – you can use the name of your website.
  5. Company Division – you can use the niche you are working in.
  6. Email address – this is where the SSL certificate will be sent
  7. Pass Phrase – Not required, it’s a challenge password used by Apache at startup to decrypt your SSL private key.

Once all the information is complete click the “Generate” button to create the certificate. Make a copy of the CSR, you will need it when purchasing the SSL certificate and then click “Return to SSL Manager”.

Purchase SSL Certificate

Cpanel is now ready to accept a new SSL certificate. Do a search for “SSL certificates” to find a retailer.

  1. Purchase a certificate and fill in the required information.
  2. You will be asked to paste the CSR that you generated in cPanel into a form to complete the transaction.
  3. Confirm you are the site owner – each retailer will be a bit different, some may have phone confirmation others will have email or both.
  4. Once you have confirmed you are the owner of the site the retailer will send you the SSL certificate and an intermediate CA certificate which you will install using cPanel.

Install the Certificate

Know that you have all the certificates you are ready to install them on cPanel. Copy the certificates you received from your retailer and the key you generated at the beginning into a word pad document for easy access.

  1. Go back to cPanel and the SSL / TLS Manger
  2. Click the “Setup a SSL certificate to work with your site” at the bottom of the page. If this link does not appear contact your hosting company.
  3. Select your domain from the drop down menu.
  4. Copy the SSL Certification and paste it into the “Certificate (CRT)” window.
  5. Copy the Key and paste it into the “Key (KEY)” window.
  6. Copy the intermediate CA and paste it into the “Ca Bundle (CABUNDLE) window.

With all the certificates and the key in place click the “Install Certificate” button. If no errors where made you will get a confirmation that the SSL certificate was installed. Keep in mind that each retailer may name the certificates in a slightly different manner.

If the retailer has a site seal that you can apply to your website that confirms you have SSL, I suggest doing so because it gives your visitors and customer’s piece of mind while they shop on your site.

If you run into a problem simply erase and start again, cPanel looks very intimidating but it is fairly user friendly. Give yourself a few hours to accomplish the entire process from shopping for the certificate to the installation. With the SSL installed your customers can now shop on your site with the confidence that their private information is safe.

Look for the SSL how to video [] ” coming soon!

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