How SSL certificates complement the McAfee SECURE service

The McAfee SECURE certification is now TrustedSite Certification. TrustedSite Certification includes an extended portfolio of earned certifications and trustmarks that help alleviate even more concerns of online shoppers. Explore the new features here.

In the age of data breaches, smart ecommerce businesses are increasingly using lots of different trust signals, including security badges, business quality seals and social proof, to convey trustworthiness and reliability.

But there's another trust signal—the hardy old SSL certificate—that we're going to focus on today. If you're selling online, there's a good chance you already have one. (If you are selling online and you don't have one, you really, really need one.)

In this post, we're going to focus on how SSL certificates complement the McAfee SECURE service, and explore the benefits of using both in unison.

1. What is an SSL certificate?

Many people know an SSL certificate as the little green lock that appears in URL bars on web browsers. While that's a sign that a webpage has a valid SSL certificate, there's more to it than that.

SSL certificates are a crucial component of securing data sent to servers—and that makes them a bedrock of ecommerce. They're used to encrypt credit card and contact information that's sent to stores.

When a customer wants to buy from you, their browser checks your SSL certificate first to see if it is trusted. Once trusted, their browser will send you their payment information securely, and you'll be able to decrypt it. Then and only then will they be able to complete a purchase and buy from you.

Of course, all of this happens instantly on your end, but the point is: without SSL, secure online payments aren't happening.

2. How does my SSL certificate work with my McAfee SECURE service

To explain this, let's use an analogy. Consider a bank: when it wants to transfer cash, it uses an armored car. Customers may never interact with the armored car, but they know it's there, protecting the bank, and by proxy, them.

But the bank also wants to keep the bank secure, and so they hire a security guard. The customers see the guard, and know they're doing business with a secure institution.

For online businesses, the SSL certificate is like the armored car, and the McAfee SECURE service is like the security guard. While SSL is encrypting the site, the McAfee SECURE service is scanning your site for vulnerabilities that may otherwise go unnoticed (and that an SSL cert does not check for), including malware, viruses, phishing attacks, and other malicious activities—all to ensure visitor safety.

To succeed, a business needs both. Let's take a look at the ways in which the two services work together.

a) Your SSL certificate will show up in your McAfee SECURE certification verification modal and pages

The most obvious way the McAfee SECURE service complements your SSL certificate is by highlighting your certificate in the various verification modals and pages customers check to see if a site is certified SECURE.

When a customer has doubts about a site's security, they'll click the McAfee SECURE trustmark and be shown a verification modal (or be taken to a verification page). Your SSL certificate is prominently displayed, helping ease the concerns of worried customers.

b) Your search rankings will improve, and more people will see you're certified

By using an SSL certificate, your site will be more highly rated in Google's search ranking algorithm. Although not a strong signal, every bit helps when you're getting to that all important first page of Google search results.

Added to this, the tens of millions of users of McAfee WebAdvisor software will see that your site is certified directly in their Google search results. The trustmark will appear next to the hyperlink, giving people more confidence in your site.

The trustmark, along with your higher ranked site due to your SSL certificate, will encourage more people to click on your site, and that means more business for you.

c) Your site will look secure top-to-bottom

As we mentioned above, when you mention SSL, most people think about the green lock in the URL bar. This is a crucial indicator for visitors that your site is safe—at the top of a customer's screen.

By combining an SSL certificate with the McAfee SECURE service, you can strengthen this message. As your customer's eye tracks down your website, they'll see the trustmark, either floating on the bottom of their screen, or in your footer (or both).

This provides a consistent message of security no matter where they're looking, and feeling secure is the first step in making a purchase.

Note: to achieve this, it's important to add an SSL certificate to all your site pages, and not just your checkout pages.

Wrapping up

In the bank analogy above, the two different wings of security help the bank in different ways. Without the security guard, customers wouldn't feel safe, and without the armored cars, the money wouldn't be safe.

That's how it is with SSL certificates and the McAfee SECURE service: though they achieve two different things, they work better together.