Doing some eCommerce? Creating a login system for your web app? Setting up secure website browsing in extremely important to ensure the security of your users’ data being transferred over the internet. You’ll need to take steps to secure your data. Any reputable web host will offer these services.
Get a Private IP Address (approx. cost: ~$50/year)
You’ll need to have a unique IP address (Internet Protocol Address) in order to setup a secure connection between your site and its visitors. If you’re using a shared server (like many of us using hosts like Dreamhost, BlueHost, HostGator, FatCow, etc), you don’t have a unique IP address that someone could use to reach your site (see sidenote below if this is confusing). If I type in the IP to a site on a shared server, the browser wouldn’t know which of the many sites on that shared server to direct to. Getting a private IP allows you to have a totally unique address for your website on a shared host. You can purchase a unique IP Address through your current web host.
<Sidenote> If you’re new to web development you may not realize that websites can actually be located by entering a number sequence into your browser address bar. For example, the IP address of Google.com is: http://126.96.36.199/ (Go ahead, click it or copy/past and see for yourself.) Since humans are much better at remembering words than a long series of numbers, the internet translates the IP into easily remembered, human-readable words, like http://MyRadWebsite.com. </sidenote>
Purchase an SSL Certificate (approx. cost: ~$20-$100/year)
In the case of setting up secure browsing, you’ll need an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer certificate) to create a secure connection between the user and your site (and ONLY your site). This is why the unique IP address is so important. You’ll need to install the certificate for your website (usually you’ll have to renew and potentially reinstall every year).
Serve secure pages using HTTPS
Once you have the above in place, you’ll need to make sure your secure pages are served using the HTTPS protocol and NOT the unsecured http.
Your hosting services should make these steps extremely easy. This is just an overview of setting up secure browsing for a website. Search your host’s site for more detailed instructions.