An SSL Certificate is a security measure for websites that gather sensitive information from it’s visitors.
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.
If you are going to gather sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, credit card information, or any other information that your visitors may deem private and want to keep secure, then you should get an SSL Certificate.
SSL Certificates are digital signatures that basically do two things: 1) – encrypt the information sent between your website and your visitor’s browser and 2) – verifies that your website is, in fact, the website that is getting the information passed from the visitor’s browser.
If you have an SSL Certificate installed on your website then you are allowed to use the HTTPS protocol which is a secure, encrypted protocol that checks to make sure that your website is really the website that the browser thinks it should be contacting. Your website and the visitor’s browser will send extra, secure code back and forth that will give an error if another website tries to intercept the transmission.
When the HTTPS connection is used between your website and the visitor’s browser, the data is encrypted so that it can’t be understood by anyone or anything that is intercepting the transmission.
That is a very basic explanation but should help you understand whether you need an SSL Certificate or not.
If you are sending sensitive information from your browser to someone else’s website, then you should make sure that you are using a secure connection. You should see a lock icon or some other indicator in your browser as well as the https://protocol being used in your browser’s address bar. If not, then don’t send any information that you wouldn’t want public.