What is an SSL certificate? Simply put, it’s a security measure that encrypts data transmitted between a web server and a browser. Whether you’re buying an SSL certificate or looking for a free one, it’s important to ensure the safety and protection of your website visitors.
What is the meaning of SSL Certificate?
Have you ever wondered about the diff between HTTP and HTTPS?
While surfing websites that asked for sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, etc., perhaps you noticed the extra “s”. But what does it mean? Simply explained, the “s” indicates that your connection to that website is safe, encrypted and that any data you provide is exchanged with the website in a secure way. This technology is known as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection.
As the data exchanged between web servers and browsers is sent in plain text, you are open to eavesdropping. In this instance, the SSL decides how the link and the data being transmitted are encrypted.
How does an SSL certificate work?
The most significant aspect of an SSL certificate is that it has been digitally signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA), such as Let’s Encrypt, GoDaddy, HubSpot or DigiCert,… Everyone can create a certificate, but browsers will only accept certificates from organizations on their trusted CA list. To be considered a reliable CA, an organization must comply with and be audited against the browsers’ security and authentication standards.
An SSL certificate is given by a CA to an organization and its domain name certifies that the identity of that organization has been confirmed by a trustworthy third party. Because the browser trusts the CA, it now trusts the identity of that company as well. The browser informs users that the website is secured with SSL, so they can browse the site and even enter confidential information with confidence. A “not secure website” warning may also cause your visitors to be doubtful, which will reduce traffic and revenue.
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What type of SSL certificate do I need? – Cert type distinction
Here are the 5 types of SSL Certificates to consider:
1. Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)
The highest-ranking and most expensive SSL certificate type, requires website owners to go through a strict identity verification process, and is typically used by large websites that require a lot of personal information (e.g., banks or medical providers).
2. Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL)
The second-highest in price and assurance, with a substantial validation process that is frequently used for commercial and public-facing websites that gather and retain consumer information (e.g., web apps).
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3. Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL)
The least expensive, with low assurance and limited encryption, the process just requires establishing domain ownership by responding to an email or phone call, and is mostly used by blogs or informational websites.
4. Wildcard SSL Certificates
To secure a base domain and infinite subdomains, cheaper than several single-domain certificates when you need encryption for multiple domains.
5. Multi-Domain SSL Certificates (MDC)
Secure up to 100 different domain names and subdomains with a single certificate, saving time and money; commonly used by businesses with multiple jurisdiction representations.
Can I have a Self-signed certificate?
Yes! Everyone is able to create a certificate, as we mentioned earlier. A Self-signed SSL certificate is not issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) that is recognized. Instead, the duty will fall on the website’s developer or host. What makes them effective if implementing them in a production environment will sharply reduce the volume of visitors to your website and damage user confidence?
Compared to other techniques for creating certificates, creating self-signed certificates is fairly simple. No complex procedures are required, and there is no dependency on a third party. In test environments or for applications that just require private recognition, self-signed certificates work best. “Private recognition” means the certificate won’t be recognized outside of the organization and will just be used on the device or within the company where it was created.
How to buy SSL Certificate?
1. Use ICANN Lookup to confirm your website information
Make sure your ICANN Lookup record is current and matches the information you’re providing to the Certificate Authority before submitting an application for an SSL certificate. Look up your name server, registrar details, and authoritative servers using the ICANN lookup tool.
2. Create the Certificate Signing Request (CSR)
The CSR provides data that the Certificate Authority (CA) will use to produce your certificates, such as your common name, organization, and country. You must first create a Certificate Signing Request before you can locate a certificate authority. You can accomplish this using your Server, cPanel, or an online CSR generator like DigiCert CSR Wizard.
3. Put the certificate on your website
Install the certificate on your website, and then finish. CPanel is the greatest tool for accomplishing this. You might not need to manually install the certificate if you purchased an SSL through your hosting company because it may already be there.
Is it possible to own a free SSL certificate?
Aside from Self-signed certificates, here are 5 factors to consider while installing a free SSL certificate issued by a CA:
Not for all: Free SSL certificates are not good for dedicated business owners and website owners, who should use cert type like Organization Validated or Extended Validation certificates.
For domain validation only: This is suitable for tiny websites and blogs that do not require data collection from visitors with minimal authentication.
Limited Validity Time -: A basic free SSL certificate issued by a CA has a validity period of 30 to 90 days, and website owners must renew the certificates regularly.
No Technical Support: Because it is free, consumers cannot anticipate technical support when problems arise. They might self-search on forums for advice and recommendations on how to resolve SSL-related issues.
No guarantee: In the past, there have been reports of free SSL certificates causing severe cybersecurity risks. When it occurs, the guarantee is used as a last chance to restore the company’s website or get offset.
Hope this article has helped you answer the question “What is SSL certificate and how does it work?”. There will be other steps to build a website for your business. If you need support, book a free consultation now.