Look up at the top of your browser window. See that green lock? Depending on your browser, it might also say “Secure” or the business name next to it. This also means the URL will start with https://, instead of http://. The ‘s’, naturally, stands for ‘Secure’. If you see this on a website, you can rest easy knowing that the connection between your computer and the website is encrypted using a technology called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). When you see that green lock, your internet service provider as well as outside hackers will be not able to see any thing you enter, any form you submit, or the details of any credit card payment.
Although website encryption like this has existed for a long time, only recently has the demand and need for privacy and anonymity on the Internet, especially with the pending death of net neutrality, pushed a movement to convert all websites to use SSL. Thankfully, what was once a pricey option available primarily to e-commerce stores is now an inexpensive (and sometimes free, if you know what you’re doing) solution that every website should implement.
No, it’s not mandatory, and there are ways around needing it even if you accept credit cards, but it’s also really not that expensive. For the more tech savvy, if you’ve done everything else with WordPress thus far yourself, there are no shortage of instructions all over the web and most large web hosts have a guide on their site. For everyone else, contact your tech person (hopefully us) and they can likely install it for you.
Remember, practice safe web browsing! If your instincts about a site or email are telling you it’s fishy, don’t trust it, even if you see the green lock.