Web Hosting Knowledge Base
What Is the Difference Between SSL Certificate Encryption and Website Password Protection?
Having your own website is perhaps one of the easiest ways to reach the highest number of people across the globe. And while your website can be an indispensable tool for sharing your ideas with the world, it is important to keep in mind that not every visitor will have the best of intentions. Therefore, it is important to take some precautions early on, so that your site can become – and remain – a safe and trusted place for your visitors. In this article, we will take a look at the differences between having a password-protected site and having a website that uses SSL encryption.
What Is Website Password Protection?
Website password protection is one of the most fundamental, yet vital protections, that you can equip your site with. When a website is password-protected, its contents will not be accessible unless your visitors know the correct username/password combination. In order to be able to take advantage of this feature, you need to be using one of our paid hosting plans. For a more in-depth look at this security feature, you can read our article on what is website password protection.
What Are the Unique Features of Website Password Protection?
By implementing password protection into your website, you are able to control who has access to your site’s content. This can be useful if you are building a website that will be used by a single person or a select group of people.
Another scenario in which password protection comes in handy is during the actual website design and development process. By protecting your under-construction site, you are ensuring that nobody sees it before it is ready for prime time.
Lastly, we would be remiss if we fail to mention that setting password protection does not need to cover your whole website. In fact, you can protect only certain folders within your site’s structure. This gives you the best of both worlds – an open portion of the site that everyone can access and a password-protected part for visitors with prior authorization. Begin adding password protection to your websites by following our in-depth tutorial on how to use website password protection.
What Is SSL Certificate Encryption?
SSL certificate encryption enables your visitors to connect to your website using a secure connection. The SSL certificate is installed on your domain name and is capable of securing every single connection that your visitors make to your website. SSL certificates require advanced server functionality and as such, they are only available to customers using our paid hosting platform.
What Are the Unique Features of SSL Certificate Encryption?
Unlike website password protection, the main goal of an SSL certificate is to secure the connection that is used to transmit data between the visitor’s web browser and the web server that powers the website that is being visited. Once the connection is secured, all transmitted data gets encrypted automatically. In a secure connection, the server and the client’s web browser are the only two entities that can decrypt the data. To learn even more about how SSL works, you can check our article on what is an SSL certificate.
Providing an encrypted connection protects your visitors from threats known as man-in-the-middle attacks. In these kinds of attacks, a third party will try to intercept bits of data that are sent from the server to your visitor’s web browser or vice versa. If these pieces of information are not encrypted via SSL, the attacker will be able to read them. If the connection is encrypted, however, all the attacker would see is gibberish. As such, it is vital that an SSL certificate is used, especially when your website will be handling sensitive visitor information, such as their login credentials or their bank details.
As an added bonus, Google’s search algorithms prefer websites that are secured with an SSL certificate. So if you wish to get a boost in your search rankings, all you need to do is to install an SSL certificate on your domain. If you are not sure how to install an SSL certificate, you can follow our SSL installation guide.
Which Security Feature Is More Important?
The way you prioritize one security feature over another would depend entirely on the type of website you have and the information you are storing there. If you use your website to take orders from clients and collect sensitive information like names, addresses, and bank information, having an SSL certificate is of paramount importance. If, on the other hand, your site displays privileged information that is not meant for everybody, you should go ahead and password-protect your website.
Are SSL Certificate Encryption and Website Password Protection Mutually Exclusive?
They are not. In fact, they go great together. The vast majority of websites out there employ both security features. When SSL certificate encryption and password protection are used in combination, you can have visitors who are able to securely connect to your website and access pages that are not available to the public.
While neither of these security features is required to have a site online, each of them can bring tremendous value to your website. The use of SSL encryption is nearly universal nowadays and as such we believe that every site owner should purchase an SSL certificate for their website. The use of website password protection is a bit more niche and may not be applicable to your website. Therefore, you should implement password protection only if you have web content which should not be publicly accessible.
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