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SSL - A Lesson

SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer.

Click Here for an article on the subject in our Fine Art Views newsletter.

The bottom line is that having SSL enabled on your domain shows that your website is protected, secure. Your site visitors should not get any warnings about security issues from their browsers when SSL is enabled.


What it means for you is that your website URL would become:
https://(yourname .com)/ (notice the s)
instead of
http://(yourname .com)/

It would also show a friendly green lock in the address bar of your visitor's browser.


Click here for our FAQ on how to request SSL (even if just for the cool green padlock).


Here's the full scoop for you fine-print folks, from FASO Founder Clint Watson's article:


Secure Sockets Layer is traditionally a very expensive technology that encrypts the communication on the network between your website and people visiting your website. This allows communication between the two parties that is private.

Without SSL, devices in between your website and your visitor have the potential to see what is being sent. Today, if your website visitor is reading your artist biography, in theory, your ISP (someone like Comcast or Time Warner) could also read your biography as the information flowed over their networks. And, although it almost never happens, in theory, they could even change the information. But, in practice, the risk of someone actually changing this has always been extremely tiny, as long as the site visitor was on a trustworthy network.

So, for regular public information, like an artist's biography, non-encrypted communication has always been fine, and the traditional cost of SSL was far too much to consider using it to encrypt public information. 

But what about private information? You certainly don't want someone seeing or potentially changing your credit card information!

That's why, in the past, websites used very expensive shared SSL sparingly and it was typically only needed for very sensitive data (such as credit card information) and was mostly used only by checkout pages, financial institutions like Paypal or traditional banks. By the way, all FASO websites have ALWAYS used shared SSL to protect eCommerce checkout pages, logged-in users, and payment pages (on Paypal). 

We call that shared SSL because those pages are all protected on secure domains that are "shared" by all FASO members. Domains such as 

  • https://faso.com, 
  • https://secure.fineartstudioonline.com, 
  • https://www.paypal.com, etc. 

In the past, we had not offered CUSTOM SSL (meaning SSL on your personal custom domain of artistname.com) because CUSTOM SSL was extremely difficult to enable and very expensive. It was also technically infeasible until the past year or two. The charges to overcome those challenges would have forced us to add hundreds of dollars a year to your bill. Put simply, the cost far exceeded the benefit and, even if we had been able to offer it, almost no artist would have wanted to use valuable funds to pay for it.

However, times have changed in the following ways:

  1. Affordable SSL options have become available in the past few months.
  2. Custom SSL implemented in a new, less expensive way, is widely supported by (almost) all web browsers now.
  3. New technology has made it easier to serve SSL pages.
  4. New technology has made it easier to obtain and renew the certificates that underpin SSL technology.
  5. Google and other search engines are starting to give more, higher rankings to websites that are SSL Enabled.
  6. Web browsers, in the future, may start adding a small "warning" on sites that do NOT have SSL.

Due to these changes, it makes sense to think about making communication private even on regular web pages like an artist's biography. After all, if it's easy and free, then why not make sure that the communication is private and that no parties in the middle can change the information being sent? Due to these changes, we expect SSL technology to be used on many more websites in the future, not just checkout pages and banks.

That provides your site visitors with more privacy, positions your site for the future, and hopefully gives your site visitors even more confidence to buy your beautiful artwork!

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