When it comes to adopting the latest security standards and best practices, government websites are often seen showing laxity in comparison to the websites of private companies. Take installation of SSL certificates for an example and you’ll learn that many government websites have still not been secured with SSL. However, given the importance that these websites occupy in our lives, this should not be the case. Government websites should instead be among the first ones to implement all important security standards, including the standards as basic as Secure Socket Layer or SSL.
Therefore, in this article, we’ll try to understand why it’s important for government websites to install an SSL certificate. But before that let’s understand in brief what SSL certificates are. Let’s begin:
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL Certificate is a tool that is used to establish a secure connection between a website and its users so they can send any information directly to the site in a secure manner. The URL of an SSL secured website begins with “https” instead of the regular “http”. Something likes this:
The premise of these certificates is to prevent a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack, which is a kind of attack in which someone captures the data packets being sent by a user to a website, and then steals the information being sent from those data packets. So, if someone is sending sensitive information like credit card info, username, password, etc, and the website asking for that information is not secured with an SSL certificate, then the information can be stolen by someone through a MITM attack. This is a popular method of stealing confidential user information from a long time, and SSL certificates were invented to protect against this particular method only.
An SSL secured website instructs the web browser to encrypt the information before it’s transmitted over the internet, so even if someone captures data packets in the middle he won’t be able to steal any information from them as every packet will be encrypted. An encrypted data packet is just like a broken puzzle, which can’t be reassembled by anyone until they have a particular key needed to assemble it. That key resides with the website alone, so no one else can steal information from encrypted data packets being sent to an SSL secured website.
With this basic overview in mind, now we can try to understand why SSL certificates are important for government websites. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons:
5 reasons why government websites must use SSL
There are a number of reasons why government websites must use SSL certificates. However, the top 5 of them are given below:
1. To establish trust: An SSL secured website establishes the trust of visitors. Those who’re tech-savvy and understand how SSL works get complete peace of mind regarding the privacy of data that as they see the URL beginning from “https”, and those who’re not so tech-savvy also get a sense of security by seeing the green ‘Secure’ label in the address bar of their browser.
2. To securely obtain the information from visitors: An SSL certificate helps you collect any information that you want to collect from your visitors in a secure manner. You and your visitors get complete peace of mind from one of the most popular kinds of attacks (MITM attacks) that are used to steal information online.
3. To boost your SEO: Believe it or not, but an SSL certificate also boosts the SEO of your site. Google prioritizes websites with “https” in its search results, and therefore your site will have better chances of ranking highly in search engine result pages (SERPs) after being secured with SSL. On the other hand, websites not secured with SSL are not only kept lower in Google SERPs but also shown with a “Not Secured” warning label in Google Chrome right before their URL. Something like this:
Is that how you would want your government website to be seen? If not, then having an SSL certificate is the solution.
4. To increase the overall security of the web: Secure government websites can also help in securing everything across the Web. Even a single website not having SSL certificate is harmful to the entire World Wide Web as it allows the attacker to steal a variety of information from the users. The governments should, therefore, set an example for other webmasters by securing their websites with SSL. Like other responsibilities, this task is also an important responsibility for every government to provide a safer web environment for its citizens.
5. To ward off the extra danger: Government websites often make one of the most attractive targets for hackers. The list of attacks that affected important government websites across the world is very long, and no major government is untouched from such attacks. And there are special reasons behind it: by attacking government websites hackers can infect a large number of other users too. In addition to that, they can also disturb important government services being provided to the citizens. That way they can attract a lot of easy publicity, and therefore a lot of money too by demanding large amounts of ransom from the government. These examples are not based on imagination – such episodes have already unfolded in the world. Therefore, an SSL certificate is also important for government websites to ward off the extra danger to which they are exposed.
An SSL certificate is one of the first steps that webmasters can take to ensure the security of their website and its users. For government websites, this step becomes even more important than it is for any other site, largely because of the important role that they play in our lives. Therefore, every government must ensure that all of its websites are secured with SSL. This small step can go a long way in protecting the internet users of a region from unwanted attacks, and also from protecting a large amount of public funds that may be wasted due to such attacks. It also doesn’t take too much effort or money to get EV SSL certificate for such government entities as it is an easy to install SSL certificates available from different authorities.
So if you too have any government websites not secured yet with an SSL certificate, get them secured as soon as possible. It’s easy and cost-effective!