Boost your search rankings with an SSL

How to Boost Your Search Rankings With An SSL

How to Boost Your Search Rankings With An SSL

How to Boost Your Search Rankings With An SSL

Why You Should Have an SSL Certificate

Have you been thinking about adding SSL security to your website? Have you been hesitating because it seems too complicated and expensive? Really, it’s neither. Half the traffic on the Web now goes over HTTPS / SSL connections, and it’s constantly growing. It’s not terribly difficult, even for a small business.

History of SSL, TLS, and HTTPS

The Web was originally designed for communication, not security. A request and its response travel through multiple routers, which aren’t necessarily trustworthy. They can read and even alter anything that passes through them. They can steal passwords, add scripts, or censor information.

As the Web grew, it became obvious that secure communication was necessary. In 1994, Netscape created the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to support encrypted communication on the Web. It let a browser communicate securely with a server, even if the two parties didn’t know each other. The HTTPS protocol sends requests and responses over SSL, keeping them safe from any “man in the middle.”

SSL has gone through a series of revisions over the years to improve its security. In 1999 the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) took over the standard, renaming it Transport Layer Security (TLS). Strictly speaking, SSL is obsolete, but the term is still widely used. The data document which lets a site transfer data over TLS is still almost always called an “SSL certificate.” We’ll stick with that usage here.

Why SSL is important

The most obvious reason for using SSL (TLS) is to protect confidential information in transit. Snoopers shouldn’t be able to intercept passwords, credit card numbers, and other data that needs to be kept secret. With widespread use of public Wi-Fi, this is more important than ever. Anyone with some simple equipment can intercept communications near a public Wi-Fi hotspot. The hotspot itself may belong to a criminal using it to collect personal information. There’s no easy way to tell a legitimate one from a malicious one.

Even owners of sites that don’t deal in personal information should consider using SSL. There are actually four benefits that it offers:

  • Authentication. It confirms that the response actually comes from the site it claims to come from (i.e., that no one else has hijacked the connection).
  • Non-repudiation. A third party can confirm that a message came from a given source without the originator’s cooperation.
  • Integrity. The information can’t be altered in transit without making the attempt obvious.
  • Confidentiality. No one else can read the information transferred.

Integrity is important even if confidentiality isn’t. An intermediary can alter data over an insecure connection. This is a concern for every site, whether they handle confidential data or not There can be several motives for modifying data in transit:

  • Censoring information. An autocratic government may want to block unfavorable news.
  • Adding false information or other content. Someone might want to deceive the recipient, engage in “hacktivism,” or damage a site’s reputation.
  • Inserting malicious scripts. Unauthorized JavaScript can make viewers download malware or redirect them to another site.
  • Modifying links. Changing a link on a page could send the user to a malicious site or steal form data.
How to Boost Your Search Rankings With An SSL

How it works

An SSL certificate is a small data file which establishes a site’s cryptographic identity. More formally, it’s called an X.509 certificate. It uses the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to set up secure communication with a browser. This approach uses two digital keys which are paired together. The private key is stored only on the website’s host. The public key is included in the certificate, which is available to anyone to view.

To get a certificate, a website’s owner has to generate a private key and a certificate signing request (CSR). From here there are two options.

The cheap option is to self-sign the certificate. This costs nothing and it allows encryption, but it provides no authentication. Someone coming in with a browser has no assurance that someone else hasn’t taken over your domain or intercepted and changed the data packets. Anyone else can create a self-signed certificate and claim it’s from your domain. It’s of little value outside of personal and test sites.

The useful option is to get a signed certificate. This requires submitting the CSR to a certificate authority (CA), which will generate a digitally signed certificate. It says that the CA has confirmed that the certificate actually belongs to your domain. A signed certificate provides authentication as well as encryption.

But wait. How do you know that the CA is who it claims to be? The answer is that the CA can have its own certificate signed. All certificates, to be generally accepted, have to follow a chain of certificates back to a trusted (root) CA. A trusted CA’s certificate is widely available, and browsers ship with a set of root certificates from them.

Setting up the server

To use the certificate, a site needs an SSL-capable server. Most modern server, including Apache, Nginx, and IIS, support SSL. Each one has its own method of installing the certificate.

It’s vital to keep the private key strictly confidential. Anyone who grabs it can intercept all secure communications. At the same time, it needs to be safely backed up, in case it ever needs to be restored.

SSL will protect only information that’s accessed through an HTTPS URL. If a site was previously using HTTP URLs, it’s necessary to change them to use HTTPS. The old URLs should forward to the new ones, both to avoid breaking links and to help people who are too lazy to type “https://”.

The server needs to use an up-to-date version of TLS — and here, the difference between SSL and TLS is important. The old versions, designated as SSL, have known weaknesses. So does TLS 1.0, which is basically the same as SSL 3.0. An attacker with enough computing resources can break the encryption. A website needs to use TLS 1.1 or later to have good security.

How to Boost Your Search Rankings With An SSL

Getting your certificate

Obtaining an SSL certificate isn’t complicated or expensive when you get it from us. OrangeWebsite’s options range from the simple, economical RapidSSL to strongly validated, multidomain certificates. Whether you use our domain hosting or another host, we offer installation service and stand by our certificates. You can get a validated certificate at annual prices starting from:

  • RapidSSL Standard (simple and available in minutes): €29.80 / $31.92
  • Comodo InstantSSL (business validation): €73.60 / $78.84
  • Comodo Multidomain EV (extended validation): €565.00 / $749.00
  • RapidSSL Wildcard (unlimited subdomains): €134.70 / $144.29
  • Comodo EV (single domain, extended validation, $250,000 warranty): €298.80 / $320.07

Prices may vary with currency fluctuations. Contact us if you have any questions.

The Environmental Impact Of Server Hosts

The Environmental Impact Of Server Hosts

The Environmental Impact Of Server Hosts

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

Jane Goodall

The evidence is indisputable. Global warming is happening and mankind is playing a large role in speeding its effects up. The polar ice caps are melting, the sea levels are rising, more natural disasters are occurring. The list goes on and on. 

Because of this, individuals, communities and nations are taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint. Consumers are recycling. People are buying electric cars. Governments are enforcing stronger environmental regulations. But is it enough?

The scary truth is that while many people are making the effort to be more conscientious about their use of resources, there are some ways individuals unknowingly waste. One of these more hidden resource drainers are the server hosts that people connect to everyday when they surf the internet. 

The Truth Behind Data Centers

There are now roughly three million data centers across America, and all of these servers make up about 2% of total United States electricity use—roughly the equivalent of five nuclear power plants. Annually, a single server, on its own, produces more carbon dioxide than a car. Over 10 years ago, globally, data centers were consuming the equivalent of 14 coal-fired one thousand megawatt power plants. And these numbers are only going up—by 2020 web hosting will be as polluting as the airline industry. 

But it’s not just about energy use. Servers are abusing the environment in multiple ways. One of the lesser known areas of pollution comes from data center’s fire suppression efforts. Obviously these companies understand that they need to keep client’s data safe, and having extensive precautions makes sense for a business that deals so closely with high voltage. Unfortunately, the chemicals used are pretty harmful to the environment, depleting the ozone layer, getting mixed with rainwater runoff, and having a high global warming potential. 

There’s also the electronic waste that occurs. Not only does server technology and equipment have a finite lifespan, but in order to keep up with performance requirements and competitors, data centers must replace their equipment at least every five years—if not sooner. Most of this ‘junk’ goes into a landfill, sometimes through harmful offshore disposal. But worse still is the poisonous substances that much of the technological equipment contains. This can seep into groundwater and harm plants, animals and humans alike.

The Environmental Impact Of Server Hosts

But the environmental harm gets even worse. Most data centers and servers require diesel fuel. It’s not uncommon for a single data center to emit 150 thousand pounds of carbon dioxide from diesel fuel annually.

And then there’s the coolant and batteries. Coolant is required for computer room air conditioning and liquid cooling—otherwise the machines will overheat. Unfortunately, this coolant can be highly toxic—think chlorofluorocarbons and freon. Along with being toxic, they also have global warming potential by trapping heat within the atmosphere. The enormous batteries that data centers have to keep around in case of power fluctuations are lead-acid. The negative effects from these batteries bookend their lifespan, from the destructive mining that’s required to produce them to the difficulty in disposing them. 

The Benefits Of Going Green

So how can this problem be solved? We can’t stop using the internet and companies still need to rely on data centers. The only available answer is green server hosting. Green hosting, also known as eco-friendly hosting, reduces the environmental impact of internet hosting by utilizing green technologies. OrangeWebsite, an Iceland-based company that has been around for a decade, is doing just that.

Some of these green technologies that we use at OrangeWebsite include energy saving appliances, carbon offsetting, planting trees around the center, and using renewable energy. So while the average web server consumes 1,000 KWh of energy and 630 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year, we produce no carbon dioxide. This means that any business that utilizes our services is reducing their environmental footprint and the environmental footprint of their customers. 

This isn’t just a ‘good’ thing to do out of the kindness of a company’s heart. It is a wise business decision. Partnering with OrangeWebsite changes an organization’s reputation. By simply adding green credentials to their name, a business can drastically alter the way current and potential customers view them. Being environmentally conscious is an added benefit of shopping from them–one more reason to stay loyal or to move from a similar brand that isn’t quite as forward thinking. Additionally, because only the initial setup cost is high for the host, rather than the regular operational expense of buying energy from the utility company, it doesn’t cost anymore to use our services at OrangeWebsite. 

Everything we do at OrangeWebsite is run on green energy–primarily geothermal and hydropower. Businesses that choose to partner with us are provided with a green site seal so that their customers can see that they too are committed to protecting the planet.

But OrangeWebsite goes further than to just utilize the power of renewable energy. The majority of our staff works from home in order to reduce energy waste from an office and commuter traffic. Additionally, we are working to reverse any impact that we do make by planting between 250 to 1,000 trees every month. To find out how you can partner with OrangeWebsite to get excellent web hosting services, as well as  play your part in fighting global warming and environmental damage, contact us.

Orange Website Team