If you want to make sure that your users can access your website without any issues, you need to implement an SSL monitoring process. This ultimate guide on SSL monitoring will give you a refresher on some SSL basics, as well as the best ways to monitor for SSL certificate expiration.
What does SSL mean?
Let’s start with a quick refresher on the basics of SSL. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and it refers to the technology that allows us to secure our Internet connections.
SSLs are protocols that allow you to establish authenticated, encrypted links between your users’ browsers and your web servers. It protects the sensitive data that is being transmitted and prevents any outsiders from screening or modifying any of the information.
Think of this as the backbone of your secured network – without it, sensitive user data would not be able to make it into your network safely. You need to have SSL to enhance privacy, data integrity, and security for your organization and your users.
The Main Purpose of SSL
So, what is the main purpose of SSL?
We can divide the purpose of SSL into four segments: authentication, encryption, PCI compliance, and building trust.
One of the main purposes of SSL is to provide authentication. Authentication is the process of verifying that the data your users transmit is sent to your server – and not some imposter or malware that was set up to steal their private information.
Authentication is necessary any time your customers are sending information across a network. You never want to risk them thinking that they sent you their payment data, only to find that it went elsewhere. The only real way to avoid this is through SSL certification.
The next valuable aspect of SSL is encryption. Encrypting your data as it is sent across a network allows you to keep it safe and prevent anyone but the intended recipient from accessing it.
Think about how necessary this is when customers provide you with their username and password or credit card information. The SSL encryption makes this data unreadable to everyone that tries to access it, except for the intended recipient.
Up-to-date SSL certificates are also required for PCI compliance. PCI, or payment card industry, standards require you to have this technology in place before you can accept credit card orders through your website.
If you intend to allow customers to purchase your products online, you will need to set up an SSL certificate.
Having an SSL certificate also helps you build trust with your target audience. When someone visits your website and sees that you have a secured connection, they will be more likely to trust your brand and complete an order.
It doesn’t give you a very image if they try to access your site and get an SSL error instead!
Monitoring SSL Certificate Expiration
SSL certificates will expire, so it is necessary to monitor them regularly.
By validating your SSL certificates and having a monitoring system in place to notify you of any issues, you prevent the risk of site down time and SSL errors. If you allow your SSL certificates to expire, your users will not be able to access your website – dragging down site traffic and other major KPIs.
When somebody visits your website, their browser downloads the SSL certificate to follow the trust chain. If the browser cannot trace the SSL chain, the viewer will get a warning about a potential security threat.
A recent update on Safari browsers will automatically block SSL certificates if their validity period is longer than 398 days. When the browser no longer trusts the SSL, the user will have issues getting on to your landing pages.
The good news is, there are tools available that can aid in monitoring your SSL certificates automatically!
For instance, ElevenGuard is an SSL checker that was designed to help you avoid red lights in production. This tool will send you notifications before your SSL expires, preventing any errors before they even happen.
SSL on Your Phone
You can also utilize SSL on your phone and mobile devices. The goal is to authenticate and encrypt data transfers between two endpoints, and SSL can allow you to establish that secured connection.
When you use your phone to send an email, an SSL certificate confirms that your information cannot be altered or stolen – and that it went to the right place. In this specific scenario, the SSL encrypts the entire communication pipeline between your mail server and your phone.
Since the data is encrypted, someone cannot decipher it even if they could get their hands on the information!