What is SSL and Why do I Need it?

Learn what a SSL certificate is and how it protects your patient data from hackers and leaks. Also learn how to determine whether your site has a SSL certificate and how to get one.

Have you ever noticed that some website URLs start with "http://" while others start with "https://"?

What does the 's' in https:// mean?

Simply put, the 's' represents a website with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology. SSL technology makes your website both secure and encrypts any data that you share with the website.


What is a SSL certificate?

According to SSL.com:

"SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remain private."

Standard http:// websites are vulnerable to what's called a "man-in-the-middle attack," where a small, undetected listening program is embedded on the server hosting a website by a hacker. That program waits in the background until a visitor starts fills out a form on the website, such as a signup form or a login. It then activates, copies all of the information the visitor types and  then sends it back to the hacker

SSL allows your browser to form a connection with the webserver, confirm the SSL certificate, and then bind together your browser and the server. This binding connection is secure, meaning that only you and the website you're submitting the information to can see or access what you type into your browser.

According to recent HubSpot Research, up to 85% of people will not continue browsing if a site is not secure. 

Can I add the SmileSnap widget to my site if it doesn't have a SSL certificate?


SmileSnap's javascript integration code cannot be integrated on a website that does not have a SSL certificate. Security and privacy of data is a critical part of the patient-doctor relationship. Without SSL, any patient data that is submitted on your website is at risk of "man-in-the-middle" attacks.

How do I know if my site has SSL?

Learn to identify the characteristics of a SSL secure website or run it through this free site analyzer from Hubspot

  • Go to the website that you want to test
  • Look at the URL and and determine whether the address says 'http://' or 'https://'. If it says https://, your site has an SSL certificate.
  • Depending on your browser, your URL bar might display a padlock icon. You can click on this icon and read more information about your site's security.

How can I get an SSL certificate for my website?

The first step for practices is to contact your webmaster or IT department. They will determine exactly what type of certificate your website needs.

The cost of SSL certificates vary, but you can get a free certificate or pay a few hundred dollars per month to obtain a custom certificate.