If you run a commerce website, you’ve probably heard about SSL certificates. Depending upon the level of certificate that you have, they verify the validity of your domain, up to detailed information about your company. An SSL certificate isn’t handy just for commerce sites, however. It’s a vital website security component for any site that deals with personal information of any sort.

These days, attacks on severs are commonplace, and website users are wary, especially when it comes to entering sensitive information. That’s where an SSL certificate comes in handy. It increases consumer confidence, and confidence of visitors in general. It shows that you’re serious about what you’re doing.

An SSL certificate is really a must if you plan to accept any sort of sensitive data, including passwords, personal information, or payment credentials. While it’s not a must to have an SSL certificate if you only have a message board on your site, you would be well advised to purchase one if you collect any sort of personal information, including real names and addresses.

An SSL certificate is really mandatory if you run a commerce website. Credit card companies require this, and there are very few customers who are willing to enter payment or personal information without the blue or green bar, or the lock logo, depending upon the browser.

It’s quite easy to install an SSL certificate if you have a control panel of any sort, but the process is a little bit more involved if you do it in your SSH shell. You will first need to enable the mod_ssl module in Apache. It’s included in the default installation, but it is not enabled as a default. The module requires the OpenSSL library.

As you can see, it’s a very involved process to install an SSL certificate if you don’t have a control panel. It’s important that it be installed correctly, because there’s a certain chain to follow, and if link in the chain is broken, your certificate won’t validate, and even worse, your users could get an error message warning them about potential safety issues, which is not something that any webmaster wants.

If you are not comfortable with doing the process manually, have someone help you. Even if you must pay for their services, it’s money well spent, because the increased sales or usage your site will get as a result will be the return on investment.

Sadly, an SSL certificate is something that many well-meaning webmasters or merchants neglect to get, and apart from violating the terms of the credit card companies’ merchant agreements, it’s simply not good for business.

It would be well advised to use the https:// protocol for any section of your website that accepts a password, personal information, or payment information. Doing so will make the experience far more pleasant for both yourself and your users or customers.