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The Ultimate Guide to SSL Certificates

Internet securitySSLSSL certificateSSL guideSSL protocol
Updated April 28, 2022 Ivana

Nowadays, activities like online shopping are highly widespread among consumers, be it for the convenience or for health safety issues. As a result, more and more businesses are “upgrading” from brick-and-mortar traditional shops to e-commerce.

 

But, as this trend goes on, your users share different kinds of sensitive information with your business on a daily basis, which means that if you want them to trust you, they need to feel that their data is protected against any potential leaks.

 

By sensitive information, we mean any kind of personal info people type into a website, such as their email, bank details, phone number, and so on. Simply put, individuals and organizations need to be protected by certain security precautions.

 

difference between http and https
Source: metroannex.com

 

This is why every online business owner needs to us understand what SSL certificates are, why and how to use them, so their visitors feel safe.

 

So, how do SSL certificates help your business? Let’s find out!

 

What is an SSL certificate and why is it important for your business?

One of the easiest to implement, and most crucial preauction to keep your users data secure is using an SSL certificate, or Secure Sockets Layer. In fact, SSLs are one of the mandatory requirements Google implemented in website ranking, did you know that?

 

And at this point you might be thinking:

I don’t have an e-commerce store, why do I need and SSL?

 

SSL certificates are not just for online shops and online shoppers. Their role is to encrypt and secure any kind of personal or sensitive information your users give you, be it as simple as their name, or as crucial as their credit card information. In other words, if you have users, they will share some form of data with you, and you need to protect that data.

 

But, SSLs also have an important role in your online brand identity because browsers like Chrome know if you use one or not. If you do, your users can see that using different visual indicators:

  1. A padlock icon in the website’s address bar,
  2. Your URL starts with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://, where the ‘s’ stands for secure,
  3. Or simply the URL is of green color.

 

And for those websites who skipped on this “SSL nonsense”, Chrome will display a wonderful error warning your users their data may not be secured.

 

how an SSL warning looks like in chrome
Source: greengeeks.com

 

How many of your potential visitors you think will take their chances with your business after seeing that?

 

The answer is: not many.

 

At the end of the day, you can do your business as honestly as possible, but if the first impression your users have of you is that big red warning, they will choose your competitor instead whose website uses an SSL certificate and therefore looks more trustworthy.

 

How do SSLs work?

An SSL certificate helps your business by adding to the credibility of your brand and rank higher on Google. But before you can choose the right one for your business, you should probably first understand how they work.

 

If you work with a web development company like Wiredelta, they can hold a workshop with your where they present the different SSL types and help you select to one you need. 

 

But if you don’t have that luxury, or simply don’t have the time for a workshop, read on.

 

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. The certificate itself is a data file that ensures that the link between a web server and browser is encrypted and keeps all the data typed in private. 

 

Secure Sockets Layer
Source: freepik.com

 

The process is quite similar to going through security in an airport:

  1. First, when users access your website, the browser calls the server and asks if it uses an SSL.
  2. Them, the server needs to present the SSL certificate ID, to prove it’s not an impostor
  3. The browser checks the ID, and get back to the server;
  4. If everything is in order, then both of them are in agreement, and the data transfer can start

 

This may sound like a lengthy process but it actually happens almost instantly, without you even noticing

 

How SSLs a in SEO for your business

SEO is a complex topic that is influenced by many different factors. But did you know that even the presence of an SSL certificate on your website can significantly affect your ranking on search engines?

 

It is a fact that Google’s SEO ranking algorithm favors websites with an SSL certificate over insecure, risky websites. When you think about it, it is quite obvious and actions like this make the online space a safer place.

 

From this point of view, having an SSL certificate is a win-win situation, since your business won’t benefit from the protocol only because your website will be secure, you also higher your chances to boost your rankings.

 

Different types of SSL certificates – which one should you choose and why?

In general, we can divide the SSL certificates into 2 main groups with 3 types of certificates each.

 

The first group comprises from certificates differentiated by the level of encryption and validation. While the second group of certificates is based on how many domains and subdomains can be registered under one certificate.

SSLs differentiated by the level of encryption
  • Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificates

This kind of certificate is the one with the lowest level of strictness and a low level of encryption. Everything you need to do to get a DV certificate is to justify you are authorized to own the particular domain.

 

People that are tight on a budget will benefit from this protocol the most since it is the cheapest and affordable option. Moreover, it is also quick to acquire, which might be convenient for small businesses or blogs that don’t ask their users for much or too private data.

 

  • Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates

An EV certificate is the most expensive type of SSL certificate. Not only the price is higher, but it will also take more time to get one since all the details of your organization are going to be carefully inspected.

 

Remember when we described the indicators of how to easily spot whether a website is equipped with an SSL certificate? When a website possesses an EV certificate, the URL will turn green – which is the easiest sign for your users.

 

EV certificates are the best option for businesses, bigger institutions, and eCommerce stores that are operating with sensitive personal customer information (bank transaction details, addresses, names,…).

 

Remember to keep in mind that the privacy of your clients should be always in the first place. Even if this certificate is more expensive, you shouldn’t even hesitate if you need one, when dealing with your customer’s details.

 

  • Organization Validation (OV) SSL certificates

When it comes to the level of encryption and price, OV certificates are somewhere in the middle between the two certificates mentioned above.

 

The process of obtaining the certificate is also not as simple as it was with DV certificates, since the Certificate Authority (CA) will verify your domain and contact your organization – so only the communication makes the process a bit longer.

 

The money makes the difference, so even it is a bit more expensive than DV, the certificate includes your company name and details, which gives a more credible impression to your clients.

 

SSLs based on how many domains and subdomains can be registered under one certificate.
  • Wildcard SSL certificates

A wildcard certificate will protect a single domain with an unlimited number of subdomains.

 

That means that if the certificate is issued for your main domain ‘example.com’, it will be also valid for any subdomain associated with that main domain, such as ‘mail.example.com’.

domains
Source: freepik.com

The rule is that this kind of certificate can be issued along with DV and OV SSL certificates. It is definitely beneficial and you might want to consider getting one even if you don’t have any subdomains at the moment.

 

This way, you avoid a situation where you need to buy multiple SSL certificates.

 

  • Multi-domain SSL certificates (Unified Communications SSL certificates – UCC)

If you are handling multiple websites, a multiple-domain SSL certificate is your to-go option. It can be combined with either of the SSL certificates discussed above – DV, EV, OV, or wildcard.

 

You can register and protect up to 100 domains within one multi-domain SSL certificate. This certificate is definitely a money-saving option.

 

The logic behind Unified Communications SSL certification is very similar to multi-domain – it can bear up to 100 domains. The only difference is that it was designed for Microsoft Exchange and Office Communications.

 

However, today, any website can use it.

 

  • Single-domain SSL certificates

As the name suggests, this certificate only applies to one domain. It is important to realize that it is suitable only for one domain, which means not even subdomains will be protected.

 

Reliable SSL certificate providers 

Now that you have a better understanding of how SSLs work and which one to choose for your business, let’s look at a few reliable providers.

 

Comodo SSL

If you are looking for an inexpensive but reliable solution, Comodo SSL is a good option.

 

The prices of the most affordable plan are between $6 to $9 per year, depending on how many years you decide to select when choosing the plan. The more years, the lower the price/year.

 

One of the best features is that the DV certificate can be issued immediately, so it won’t take long until you obtain one, as the validation is automated.  Moreover, you can rely on customer service that will help you with any issues 24/7.

 

GeoTrust

GeoTrust is not the cheapest SSL provider, but you have multiple price categories to choose from. Whether you are a small business owner or running a medium-sized business, GeoTrust will have a solution for you.

 

The ‘GeoTrust TrueBusiness ID’ plan offers OV certification for 238/year. If your organization deals with customers’ personal information and collects customer data, this is the best option.

 

However, we recommend looking for the highest level of security for eCommerce stores – an EV certificate. You can also upgrade your GeoTrust OV certificate to extended validation.

 

DigiCert

If you are running an online store, you want to equip your website with the best security solution available. DigiCert offers an extended validation plan that costs $995/year.

 

DigiCert has a good reputation what makes them a reliable SSL certification provider. Outstanding customer service is also something you can count on.

 

Conclusion

The security of your website is definitely one of the most crucial aspects of your business. Therefore it is important to keep yourself updated on which solutions are the best for your business.

 

 

However, because there are so many types and providers for your SSL needs, it is recommended you reach out to a professional. This can be a company dealing strictly with cybersecurity or it can be a web development agency.

 

Both have the expertise to help you choose the right solution, get the certificate and even help you apply it to your website. So don’t compromise your users’ data, when it can be so easy to avoid it.

 

And if you need more help or a second opinion about your SSL choices and needs, book a free meeting with our experts. We are here for you!

 

Read More Articles

Everything You Should Know When Choosing Your SSL

HTTP vs HTTPS and why SSL is the future?

Addressing Security Issues in the Era of Business Agility

 






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