A simple guide to how Secure Certificates Work

Much has been discussed about Google’s search engine weighting for sites with SSL certificates.  Or in English – Secure certificates.  What is a secure certificate and why do I need one?

It might be easier to think of your visit to a website like a telephone call.

So imagine this first call is to your bank on an unsecured line, you have been given the bank’s telephone number from a bloke in the street written on a brown envelope.  You are sitting in a quiet train carriage with lots of people able to listen in to your call as you have it on speakerphone.

You dial the number…. It rings and is eventually answered by some bloke, is that a dog barking you can hear in the background?

“Hello this is the bank”

“I would like to check my balance please”

“What’s your bank account number? Address? First name?”

“Account Number 123455678, 123 Acacia Avenue, Bob”

secure certificates, wordpress sslAfter the conversation is over you realize you have called an unverified number, gone through personal details with the person at the other end of the phone whilst everyone in your train carriage has also been listening in and if they wanted to have made a note of that detail.

Now this scenario does sound far-fetched and in most cases you would hang up when you heard the dog barking!  Statistics suggest that when we are online we carry on  regardless trusting the site is secure and enter personal details without caring if the site is verified and who might be ‘listening in’.  It might also be true that we just don’t know enough of what to look for to know whether we are ‘secure’.

So let’s make this call again but with a secure certificate in place.  You are still in the carriage on speakerphone but you call the number your bank has sent you on headed paper in the post.

“Hello this is your bank”

“Hello I would like to check my balance please”

“What’s your bank account number? Address? First name?”


In this example you have verified that you are actually speaking to your bank and whenever personal information is passed you basically speak a load of gobbledegook. So anyone listening in cannot understand what is being said.

You will note that people can still listen in, this is because the internet is public, however the secure certificate basically scrambles everything you enter and view on the secure site.

You can tell if a site is secure or not by looking for a https:// address rather than an http:// address some secure certificates will also colour the address bar green to signify it is secure, you can also expect to see a padlock in the bottom corner of your browser too.

So if you own a website and want to collect secure information from your clients then seriously consider a secure certificate.  If you are a web user seriously think about what information you send over the web and who is listening in.

PC Futures specialises in helping businesses understand technology and how it works in their business.  For more information on how we can help your business please get in touch.

So stay safe online and protect your business with a SSL by getting the right WordPress hosting and WordPress Maintenance with us.