Do I need an SSL Certificate?
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate allows browsers to verify the authenticity of the website being accessed. SSL certificates are also used in conjunction with encryption to ensure that the content you are serving is securely delivered to your site’s visitors. When properly configured on your site, an SSL certificate causes a lock icon to appear next to the URL in the browser’s navigation bar. This informs the user that they are indeed accessing your website, and not an imposter’s, and that their interactions are encrypted and secure. Starting with version 68 of Google’s Chrome browser, a “warning” message appears informing browsers that a site is “not secure” when visiting a site without an SSL certificate.
With concerns related to election hacking, identify theft, etc., you are doing a disservice to your site visitors by not taking the time to install an SSL certificate. You are also potentially making it harder for interested voters to find you given what Google has published about considering SSL certificates as part of its ranking algorithm when returning search results.
Now that you know you need one, the next obvious question is “How do I obtain an SSL certificate?”
Web hosts offer them. If you are setting up a new site, you may be asked about an SSL certificate as part of initial configuration. If your site has been around for awhile, there’s usually a way to add one on. Check your host’s online documentation or support for assistance if you are having trouble.
Depending on your web host, there may be fees for an SSL certificate. Others — but not all — offer free certificates. Let’s Encrypt is a reputable source for SSL certificates.
While SSL certificates securely link your political campaign site to a visitor’s browser, your responsibilities for keeping information safe does not end there. Use our Running a Secure Political Campaign guide for more advice.