What is a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate (SSL) and why do I need it?

What is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server/page and a user's browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and secure.

How do I know that a website is secure using SSL?

When looking at the URL of a website, if before the " www." is the string, "https", the 'S' at the end of "HTTPS" stands for 'Secure'. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.In some websites that are NOT secure, it will only appear as "http", without the "S".
 

Why do I need an SSL?

There are 2 main reasons, amongst many others:

  1. This is important because the information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to the destination server. Any computer in between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted with an SSL certificate.

  2. As Google states here, they use HTTPS as a "ranking signal" to present more secure websites to it's users.