SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates are those security protocols that use encryption security for securing browser-server communications. This encryption of information helps in maintaining the privacy of customer data as well as keeping intruders away from your site. Usually, these certificates are installed on pages where sensitive information is requested from customers for making payments, i.e. credit card numbers, bank account numbers, passwords, etc.
Importance of SSL:
SSL certificate uses robust 256-Bit encryption security and 2048-Bit digital signature to secure your web transactions. This security keeps hackers away since they are unable to penetrate in the coded text.
Installation of SSL certificate helps gain a boost in SEO ranks, changing the address bar from HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) to HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) and showing a padlock in the URL.
Generally, SSL certificates are issued to companies after authentication of website, domain name check, business verification, etc. and hence customers trust these websites for making transactions and sharing their confidential information. They feel secured against those intruders who are ambushing sites for gaining their data privacy.
About SSL Encryption Technology
SSL Encryption Technology works on Asymmetric Encryption, which is also known as Public-Key Encryption. There are two keys used in the process, named the private key and the public key. The encryption of data is done with an encryption key, i.e. the public key, and decryption of data are done with the decryption key, i.e. the private key.
Though the public key can be distributed to many, the recipient of the data needs the private key to decrypt the information. Without the private key, the data cannot be decoded, and hence even if the public key is compromised, the hacker is unable to access the information.
Who uses an SSL Certificate?
Previously SSL certificates were meant only for e-commerce industries and financial institutes wherein a lot of transactions are communicated daily. But now, SSL is considered a cyber-security tool and a shield against cyber-criminals for all sites.
Hence individuals, SMBs, medium and large enterprises, varied companies, and institutions, etc. who are using the internet as a communication device and accept online credentials, all opt for SSL security.
Choosing the Appropriate SSL Certificate
SSL certificate can be categorized in 3 different ways as shown below.
Options of SSL
Free SSL is ideal for new businesses wherein the owners are thriving to survive their business with minimal costs and yet wish to secure the same. This fully automated SSL secures the main domain of the website for 90 days. Post 90 days, you need to re-issue the same, which can be done in a few minutes.
Since these SSL certificates are for free, they don’t cover any additional benefits nor do they provide any expert help in case of queries.
Example: SSL for free, Let’s Encrypt, etc. are some CA’s providing Free SSL
Paid SSL certificates are of varied types and they secure the domain as well as sub-domains, depending on the SSL type. They provide the same level of encryption like free SSL but are valid for a year or more, depending on the package given by the CA. They come with warranties and money-back offers and hence are more preferred amongst businesses.
Example: AlphaSSL Wildcard, GeoTrust QuickSSL Premium etc.
Validations of SSL
SSL certificate comes in 3 major validation levels.
Domain Validation SSL:
In DV SSL, the CA who is issuing the SSL certificate confirms the identity of the owner and checks whether he is the registered owner having the domain rights of the company or not.
Quick issuance, minimum costs, and easy, automated processes are its advantages. The downside is that they only secure the main domain of the website and hence sub-domains or multiple domains if any, remain unsecured. Authentication of business is also at an open end in DV SSL.
Example: Comodo Positive SSL
Organisation Validation SSL:
In OV SSL, the domain name as well as the organization needs to be verified before issuance of this certificate. Since business is verified, OV SSL comprises the name of the company and its address.
Their issuance time is 1-3 business days and they come in multiple types. They are also used for code signing, authenticating clients, and MIME email certificates.
Example: GlobalSign Organisation SSL
Extended Validation SSL:
EV SSL is the highest class of SSL certificates since it verifies and authenticates the business owner as well as an entity. Business identity, legal status as well as the address are also verified. This certificate is issued after thorough verification and hence its issuance time is also 1-3 business days.
EV SSL increases customer trust and helps in boosting sales by increasing the conversion ratio.
Example: GeoTrust True BusinessID EV SSL
Types of SSL Certificates
Single Domain SSL Certificate:
This SSL certificate will protect only the main domain name. The majority of the certificates issued all around the year, consist of Single Domain SSL. These certificates secure both www and non-www versions, thus providing 256-bit encryption security to all browser-server data-in-transit.
Individual Sub-domains, mail servers, and hostnames can too be secured with this certificate.
Example: If your hostname is www.example.com, this SSL will not secure blog.example.com but can secure example.com.
Wildcard SSL Certificate:
This digital SSL certificate secures the main domain, just like the Single Domain SSL certificate, with one more additional security factor. It protects all first-level sub-domains too.
An “*” before the domain name called Wildcard, does the trick of securing sub-domains. So, if your site has ample sub-domains, Wildcard SSL certificate is an ideal choice.
Example: If your hostname is www.example.com, wildcard SSL will secure blog.example.com, article.example.com
Multi-Domain SSL Certificate:
Since both of the options stated above secure only one domain, ever thought how will you secure multiple websites with only one SSL certificate?
The solution is: Multi-Domain SSL Certificate
This SSL certificate covers up to 250 domains and multiple sub-domains of all levels. It is ideal for big companies to have varied businesses on different hosts.
Example: If your hostname is www.myexample.com, this SSL will secure
- blog.net.com, etc.
Identify your security needs by deciding on how much encryption and validation is required, apart from authentication of business. Also, list how many domains and sub-domains need SSL encryption security and later the protection level (DV, OV, or EV) needed to secure your online business.
All these factors will help you to pin-point the best SSL certificate option.
How to Buy an SSL Certificate?
It’s better to go for a paid SSL certificate rather than opting for the free SSL option, because of its multiple advantages and securities they offer as mentioned above.The below-mentioned list needs to be followed when you buy an SSL certificate.
- Go for a unique IP address.
- Go for a Wildcard Certificate for securing unlimited sub-domains or a Multi-Domain if there are multiple domains. All the best options are available for example on Cheap SSL Shop.
- Register your business address, phone number, and email id
- Ensure that your registered domain name shows up in WHOIS Database
- Generate the CSR (Certificate Signing Request) on the Web Server with all the details registered above.
- Submit the same to the Certificate Authority (CA), who will verify the WHOIS record for the registered domain name and ownership details, as well as do a telephonic check for the detailed mentioned in the CSR.
- In the case of EV SSL, a copy of your business registration is also required for thorough verification.
- After verification, the CA will issue the SSL certificate.
- Install the same and secure your business.
In online purchases and sale of products, lots of monetary transactions take place. These server certificates encrypt all this information in a coded form to prevent hackers from intercepting and misusing information. Your web security infrastructure depends on the selection of an appropriate SSL certificate. Hope this article helps you in choosing the right SSL certificate for your business empire.