Your site’s SSL certificate should be renewed periodically. When it expires, your site can no longer connect to a secure and encrypted HTTPS. In other words, your information will display your website in plaintext and expose all your customers’ data. In the past, SSL had a longer duration of 5 years and gradually dropped down. Any SSL certificate you get won’t be valid for more than 398 days. For instance, your TLS/SSL certificates will have a 13-month validity. Since these certificates auto-renew can fail, you have to monitor them constantly.
Reason #1: Outages
The moment your SSL certificate expires, every benefit it was getting from the HTTPS connection is lost. It means that once the certificate expires, your site is down. Some browsers won’t allow visitors to access your website. Each time people click on your link, it will show an SSL error. Also, the absence of a valid SSL certificate will affect your Google rankings. In 2014, there were changes made to Google’s algorithm. SSL sites with HTTPS connections get better rankings on search engines.
The problem with a site with no SSL certificate is that it will alert users visiting the site. When they try to visit your site, it will alert them that the connection is not private. Also, considering that Google happens to be one of the best search engines, it will render your website non-functional.
Reason #2: Security
The primary reason for having an SSL certificate in the first place is for security. When you install an SSL certificate on your website, it will immediately encrypt the site’s information. In other words, the information on your site will be locked, and only the site’s admin can unlock it. If your website has sensitive data like people’s credit card information, passwords, Identity, or other data, it protects them. A site without an SSL certificate will be vulnerable to middle-man attacks. It will be open to third parties, hackers, and scammers. All of that data meant to be encrypted will be accessible to third parties. The SSL certificate prevents such incidents, and its encryption technology can not be breached easily.
To protect users, Google Chrome usually uses a padlock symbol and “Secure” written out in green color to indicate that the site is encrypted.
Reason #3: Trust
Another primary reason why an SSL certificate is important is that it proves authentication. The “purpose of digital certificates, like TLS/SSL certificates, is to verify the identity of the website or website owner.” Being able to identify the site is part of the security requirements. In recent times, suspicious activity has multiplied on the internet. People who click on a site know the dangers of visiting unsecured websites. Many people have fallen victim to scams and lost thousands of dollars. It can happen when people visit fake websites. That’s why SSL certificates are beneficial. Before you install an SSL certificate, you must pass through a validation process. This validation is conducted by a third party known as Certificate Authority.
However, the verification depends on the root SSL certificate obtained. The Certificate Authority will verify the website owner’s Identity and business. When the verification process is complete, the website owner gets something like a trust indicator that will prove your integrity. Anytime people visit your site, they’ll know if it is legit. In other words, an SSL certificate will give your website a good reputation and build trust. It means more people will be inclined to visit your site and return since they know their data won’t be compromised.
How to Monitor SSL Certificate Expiration?
Having some sort of SSL monitoring can check if a certificate is valid and warn before it expires. Some choose to have their own script running via cron. Others pick existing solutions, such as CertBot. Anyhow, a good practice if define a warning or alert in 60 days, 30 days, 15 days, 7 days, and even one day prior to expiration.
One of the challenges people face when it comes to acquiring SSL certificates is cost. However, this problem has been resolved with the Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates.
Certbot is the client name for Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS encryption. It is an open-source software that will automatically install the Let’s Encrypt certificates on your website. In other words, you can still enjoy the security and benefits of an HTTPS certificate at no cost. The certificates issued by Cerbot usually auto-renews every 60 days.
Using a valid SSL certificate from Certbot will help with the site’s encryption and security. SSL certificate monitoring has many benefits, and it would ensure your site is not vulnerable. It will bring trust to your customers and drive traffic to your site. Ensure you have an active SSL certificate monitoring to protect your website.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Even though Certbot auto-renews after 60 days, you still need to monitor it. ElevenGuard is a fail-safe plan, just in case Cerbot fails to renew the certificates. ElevenGuard will ensure your website’s security isn’t compromised.
ElevenGuard will give you a notification before your SSL certificate expires – on the free plan you can monitor 5 servers for free.
Now that we have established the importance of SSL certificates, you should ensure that you’re on the safe side. You can install the free Let’s Encrypt certificates on your website. Also, ensure that you have some redundancy to avoid any red lights in production.