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Website Encryption: Do static websites need HTTPS?

Website Encryption: Do static websites need HTTPS?

Have you ever visited a website that says “Not Secure” and immediately wondered if you should still trust the website and its contents? If so, you are not alone. In a survey we conducted, we found that 84% of users would abandon a purchase if data were transmitted over an unsafe connection. Now the question is, if you have a static website that does not require users to input their information or payment details, should you still opt for an SSL/TLS certificate? The simple answer is yes. Since July 2018, popular web browser, Google Chrome has been flagging all HTTP websites as “Not Secure”, even those that do not require its users to input personal information such as login and payment details.

There is a common (and quite a dangerous) misconception that static websites do not need HTTPS because the hackers do not really have a place to inject malicious codes and there are no servers to store sensitive data and other user information. In dynamic websites, there are attack vectors that can be intercepted. Although static websites may not be vulnerable to the same types of attacks as those seen in dynamic sites, they are not impermeable to cyberattacks.

A static website pretty much remains the same all the time in contrast to a dynamic website which tend to have constant changes. As a consensus, it is best practice for any website—static or dynamic—to have an SSL/TLS certificate since it helps the web server encrypt the data it delivers to the web browser with a safe HTTPS protocol.

Websites that have to abide by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are required to keep user data safe from being intercepted. One of the simplest ways to comply with these privacy provisions is by acquiring an SSL/TLS certificate for website encryption.

Sure, some static website owners can argue that their website only has static text and images, but without an SSL, a “Not Secure” website information warning will the first thing visitors will see when they visit the website. For an average user, this prompts them to subconsciously trust the website less, which in turn decreases your website’s credibility.

Bearing all these in mind, here is why your static website needs an HTTPS:

  • Secures static websites

    SSL/TLS encrypts confidential information transmitted over the Internet so that it can only be used by the intended user. When an SSL/TLS certificate is in use, the details become encrypted to every other entity aside from the intended user.

    SSL/TLS encryption guarantees that all content comes from your domain, and it ensures that nothing is modified between your site and a user’s browser.

  • Increases website credibility

    When a user visits a website with SSL enabled, they will see a padlock as a visual indicator that the connection to the website is secure. Most Certificate Authorities (CAs) also provide a site seal along with the SSL/TLS certificate that can be posted on your website to further indicate a safe connection. These visual cues help build website credibility and trust for your visitors.

  • Provides authentication

    In addition to website credibility, authentication is often supported by an SSL/TLS certificate. You can be confident that the information is being transmitted to the correct server and not elsewhere. When a user tries to access a website from different devices, the website could potentially be intercepted leading users to a fake website. Authentication is guaranteed by using the correct Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and obtaining an SSL/TLS certificate from a credible CA.

    Enabling HTTPS on a website is simple. Digital certificates require a dedicated domain name or an IP address for your website. This ensures that all traffic will be directed only to your website and no one else's. The next step is to acquire a digital certificate from your chosen Certificate Authority (CA). The CA verifies that your domain address belongs to your company, thereby protecting site visitors from man-in-the-middle attacks previously mentioned. Once the certificate is installed, your website will be encrypted.

  • Improves SEO Ranking Scores

    It has been studied that adding an SSL Certificate to your website helps boost SEO ranking. Nowadays, SSL/TLS is mandatory if you want your website to be recognized by search engines as legitimate. This SSL boost extends to all sites, including static websites that do not request or store confidential information. If your site does not have a checkout page or does not require any personal details from visitors, you can still get SEO benefits by adding an SSL Certificate to your site.

Even if static websites are not as vulnerable as dynamic ones, it is still critical for developers to ensure that all websites remain secure. Developing secure websites ensure these key aspects are met: security, credibility, authentication, and ranking. With these key elements, a website can build a trustworthy relationship with its visitors and clients of the static website.

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