<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=172061883552505&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Book Your FREE Content Hub Campaign Setup Today!

Subscribe to Our Blog

Stay up to date with the latest marketing, sales, and service tips.

Is My Website Safe?

Without delving into the backstory of every major hack, breach and attack that happened throughout the past couple of years, we’ll simply point out that security is a major concern for everyone. However, when it comes to protecting your website and personal investments, there has never been a more crucial time than now to encrypt and protect your content.

Ever notice how some URLs start with “HTTP” while others start with “HTTPS” instead? HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, while the S at the end of HTTPS denotes TLS or SSL encryption, a form of security. The latter connection is more secure and trustworthy, especially with websites that deal with sensitive or personal information.

When you are connected to a portal via HTTPS, you know for certain that any transactions, transmissions or responses are secure and protected.

How Does Encryption Work?

Encryption is a complex process, but to explain it we’ll keep things relatively simple. Think of it like the lock and key to the front door of your home. Encryption locks the data or content behind a secure key. Without the proper encryption key, you cannot decrypt and read that data. What that essentially means is the data is useless without the proper key.

The higher the encryption rating, the more difficult it is to convert or view data without the proper key. Index 2048-Bit RSA Encryption, for instance, would take forever to breach.

For now, you may be wondering how encryption protects you, your website visitors and any data being transferred. The way websites typically work is the information or data is passed through the client system, which would be the visitor’s computer. It’s then displayed, allowing them to interact and pass data back; data such as contact details, interactions, engagements and more. The data sent back to your website or server is readable without encryption.

Some of the data that is protected through encryption includes:

  • User identities, accounts, profiles and passwords
  • Credit card transactions including payment information, purchases and goods acquired
  • Financial information, such as bank statements, bank account details, addresses and more
  • Secure transmission of confidential info like social security numbers, birth certificates, photo scans and document scans
  • Sensitive corporate information and communications between branches, locations and departments
  • Browsing activity like websites and portals visited, streaming content viewed and more
  • Location data broadcast from a variety of devices, including mobile, which sometimes tracks where a user is viewing content from

If your data is unencrypted, it's vulnerable and susceptible to outside threats.

Now, it’s possible for a third party to eavesdrop on this connection and hijack the data coming in or going out during a website visit. That means that if the data is unencrypted, it’s raw and usable. Names, addresses, credit card numbers, emails and much more can be stolen and used.

Of course, that’s not the only sensitive data that exists; anything, including browser activity and viewed content, is vulnerable. That third party, for instance, could see you watching adult content and use the information to blackmail you later.

If that sounds far-fetched, know that it’s not. Malware and ransomwarea common form of cyberattackexist en masse today. Ransomware will actually lock down your computer, its data and any valuable content before demanding you pay a fee to access it again.

In most cases, if and when you do pay, the content is not released and instead is wiped. The attackers make off with free money and you’re no better off than when they got their hands on the data.

The worst part? A third party can access the server for your site, upload harmful content including a virus, trojan, malware, oryesransomware, that is both delivered through your portal and captures any and all data being transferred. The only way to combat this is to enforce strict security policies and encrypt incoming and outgoing data.

You see, encryption protects both ways. Not only does it protect the data going out, but it also protects the data coming in. Without the proper encryption key, data cannot be altered, changed or modified, limiting its likelihood to be tampered with by an outside party.

How Do I Activate Encryption?

Amazingly, setting up encryption through SSL isn’t as difficult as you’d expect.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as enabling or paying for it through your host or service provider. In many cases, web hosts will already encrypt transferred data, sometimes even at no additional cost to you. If it’s not already enabled, you may need to activate a setting on the back end or admin panel of your website. If you have no idea where to go or what to do, just send a support ticket to your host and they should help you figure out how to get it activated.

The same is true if you run your own server or host system. Of course, youor the adminsare responsible for installing and setting up SSL on servers you own. The process is relatively simple: First, you acquire a certificate through an authority, such as VeriSign. You can also create a certificate yourself if you have the wherewithal. Next, you set up the secure site directory and related files, all of which are secured on the server.

You will know the encryption and security is active when your site URL shifts from “HTTP” to “HTTPS,” as mentioned above. After doing so, any and all data going to your server or website, and coming from it, will be securely protected even if it’s scooped up by a third party.

How Safe Is Encryption?

How safe and reliable is data encryption? If data is encrypted, it's much more difficult for hackers to access.

Encryption is, by definition, not uncrackable or completely safe. There is always some risk associated with browsing content online, sharing details and interacting with various services. That is the nature of the open web and, unfortunately, that will never change.

That said, it is much more difficult for a hacker or unscrupulous individual to get their hands on sensitive data that is encrypted, which is what constitutes the “safe” description. To understand how safe your data is, you first need to look at how a ‘hacker’ or attacker would breach your security. Believe us when we say this is not done lightly, nor easily. A 30-bit key, for example, can be cracked in about one or two seconds. This is done through something called a brute-force attack, in which an automated system tries every possible combination to solve the encryption key.

A 60-bit key hacked at the same speed, however, will take one billion secondsor 34 yearsto break. This is because every additional 30 bits added to an encryption algorithm multiplies the difficulty by a billion. At that rate, 128-bit encryption, which is used by most modern devices including mobile devices, would take an exceptionally long time to break.

So, encryption is relatively safe, especially when used with higher encryption key ratings. Keep in mind, that’s not the same as “unhackable,” but when it comes to publicly shared data, nothing ever is.

New call-to-action

Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a freelance graphic designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest design news and always has some coffee in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.