When you're creating a website that will require customers to enter personal information, such as credit card numbers, addresses and full names, you definitely need to create a secure site. Web designers use what is called SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology to protect sites from information theft by scammers. This is a tool that you have to purchase from your host or a third-party provider.
Things You'll Need
- SSL certificate
- Web host and domain name
Create your website as you would do normally. Any standard web programming code will be fine, including HTML, PHP and ASP.
Go to a website that offers what are called Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates. As the title implies, SSL is a protocol that provides a layer of protection over your site by scrambling data. Popular services that you may want to consider include Godaddy SSL, VeriSign.com, Thawte.com or Comodo (see "Resources"). Your web host may also offer discounts on SSL certificates.
Choose the length of time you would like to keep the SSL certificate active, since most require annual renewal unless you pay for a longer term. Some services will allow you to pay for your certificate five years in advance.
Pay for your SSL service and then install the technology on the information-gathering pages of your website. The provider will send you a bundle of files including your unique certificate via email along with specific instructions depending on your operating system and the file upload service that you use for your website.
Test your information-gathering pages by typing in the site address with "https://" instead of the standard "http://" protocol and assure that all links to that page on your site use the new "https://" URL. Whenever your customers visit those pages, the information will become encrypted.
Use a trusted and secure website payment processing system, such as the free one offered by Paypal, to take online customer orders as an added layer of assurance for your customers. Paypal has its own layer of protection built in, so customer information is never transmitted, stored or made vulnerable to theft on your website.
Tips & Warnings
- Some customers will be concerned about security even if you have secure pages. Be sure to offer an offline contact method, such as a phone number or mailing address, where you can accept inquiries and orders.
- Install a virus checker service on your website, like McAfee Secure, to further protect your visitors.
- Sign up for an SSL certificate for each website where you will ask for customer information including login pages, payment pages and information request forms.
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