Why an SSL certificate is essential for your school’s online presence?
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate stands for Secure Sockets Layer certificate. It is basically an electronic document used to prove the ownership of a public key, including information about the key, its owner and the digital signature of the verifier who has confirmed the information contained about the key.
More simply put, an SSL certificate signals the security and reliability of a site, especially one being used for sensitive interactions like credit card transfers and more recently safer social media browsing, etc. It is advised that all sites — including your school website — have an SSL certificate in order to provide a safe browsing for all stakeholders in the educational ecosystem.
What are the benefits of an SSL certificate?
1. Secure Data Transfers
The primary function of an SSL certificate is to ensure safe server-client communication. This means that all data transfers between the servers on which the school website is hosted on and the users of the website — parents, students, non-education staff, teachers, and management — are secure. In more accessible terms, the data on the website is locked thanks to the SSL certificate and cannot be unlocked without it. This is especially useful for a school, that will deal with sensitive information such as financial details of parent’s payment methods, student emergency information, grades and scores of students, etc.
2. Verify User Identity
SSL certificates verify the identity of the website, making it the primary way to affirm identity. The internet and websites can be deceptive, especially to users who are not internet savvy. It is easy to fool a user into sharing their information. For a school website, this might involve sensitive information like financial details or student location and transport information. Such information must be protected and only be made accessible to the users and websites with the appropriate permissions.
A school website with an SSL certificate is one that has been validated by a certifying authority. The certifying authority verifies the identity of the person and the website, making it more authentic and reliable for all users and the site owner.
3. Improve Website Ranking
A school website is not just a user interface for users like parents, students, teachers, and management to engage with the school itself. But it is also a brand representation for the school. It is thus important for the school website to show up at the correct position when searched for on the internet.
To this end, Google has modified its ranking algorithm to give higher priority to those websites with SSL certificates. When your school website has an SSL certificate it is thus ranked higher and shows up higher in search results, becoming more easily accessible to existing users as well as more easily discovered by new users.
4. Establish Users Trust
A website with an SSL certificate signals to users that this is one that is reliable and safe. This means that users can safely share their information with a school website with an SSL certificate, without worrying that it might be shared with the wrong person or leaked or stolen. This is especially important for a school website because of the kind of users that visit it – these are stakeholders in the educational ecosystem who rely on their school to be a reliable institution. The same goes for the school website, which is increasingly used for sensitive engagements like payment of school fees, discussing the academic progress of students and other information that must be handled with discretion.
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