SSL Certificates: Types, Importance and More
Are you having issues understanding what SSL Certificates are, why they are important for your business, types, and different SSL certificates providers? Don’t worry! We have got you covered in this detailed guide.
Read on to learn in detail about SSL Certificates, their importance, types, and more.
SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to the details of your organization or business.
This digital certificate displays important information for verifying the owner of the website and encrypting web traffic with SSL/TLS.
Keep on reading to learn more about it.
You need a secure socket layer or SSL certificate to keep information on your website private.
Moreover, it is going to let Google know that your site is safe and trustworthy.
SSL Certification or TLS to be more accurate is a means to verify the source of your web pages, domains, levels of security, website owner, and open the door to info exchanges and electronic financial transactions.
These certificates are what enable your website to move from HTTP to HTPPS which is more secure.
SSL or commonly known as TLS is a protocol for encrypting internet traffic and verifying server identity.
Information the SSL Certificate Provides
SSL Certificates issued to include the following:
- The domain name that certificate is used for
- The name of the organization, person, or devise
- which certificate authority uses it
- digital signature of the authority
- associated subdomains
- issue date and expiry date of the certificate
- public key or the private key is kept secret
The public and the private keys are long strings of characters that it uses for encrypting and decrypting data.
It is important to note that data that is encrypted with the public key is decrypted only with the private key and vice versa.
Why do You Need an SSL Certificate?
Your website needs an SSL certificate to keep user data secure, verify ownership of the website, prevent attackers from creating a fake version of the site, and gain user’s trust.
The following are the reasons you need an SSL certificate for your website:
SSL/TLS encryption is possible because of the public-private key pairing that it facilitates.
Different clients get the public key necessary to open a TLS connection from a server’s SSL certificate.
SSL certificates that your clients or users are talking to the correct server that actually owns the domain.
This helps to prevent domain spoofing and other kinds of attacks.
One of the most crucial aspects for your business, an SSL certificate is important for an HTPPS web address.
Note that HTPPS is a secure form of HTPP and such websites have traffic encryption by SSL/TLS.
Additionally, HTPPS makes your site more trustworthy from your user’s perspective.
Most of the time, your users will not notice the difference in the address bar, however, many web browsers are using more tags of HTPP sites as “not secure” in more noticeable ways.
Types and Validation Levels of SSL Certificate
There are different types of SSL certificates, however, all provide the same level of TLS encryption.
But they all serve different purposes and are used in different contexts.
Let’s discuss them as follows:
There are different types of SSL Certificates. These are:
- Single Domain SSL Certificates
- Wildcard SSL Certificates
- Multi-Domain SSL Certificates, MDC
Let’s discuss them as follows:
Single Domain SSL Certificate
A single-domain SSL certificate applies to one domain and one domain only.
It is important to note that you cannot use it to authenticate any other domain.
Not even subdomains of the domain you are using it for.
All the pages of this domain are also secured with certificates.
For instance, if markfiniti.com has a single-domain certificate then markfinit.com/contactus is also covered by that certificate.
Wildcard SSL Certificate
A wildcard SSL certificate is for a single domain and all its subdomains.
A subdomain is under the umbrella of the main domain and usually has an address that begins with something other than ‘www’.
For instance, www.markfiniti.com has a number of subdomains including www.markfiniti.com/blog/, www.markfiniti.com/our-portfolio/, etc.
Each is a subdomain under the main markfinit.com domain.
A single Wildcard SSL certificate can apply to all of these subdomains.
Any subdomain will be present in the list of your SSL certificate by clicking on the padlock in the URL bar of the browser.
Then click on the certificate to view the certificate details.
Multi-Domain SSL Certificates, MDC
A multi-domain SSL Certificate or MDC lists multiple distinct domains on one certificate for your website.
With this, domains that are not subdomains of each other can share a certificate.
Moreover, it can secure up to 100 different domains and subdomains using a single certificate.
If you have representation in different regions or jurisdictions, then you can make use of this type of certificate.
It is beneficial for your website as well as if you have an international conglomerate.
This is crucial if you want to secure top-level domain names.
Now let’s discuss SSL certificate validation levels.
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SSL Certificate Validation Levels
When you apply for a loan in the bank, it does not issue the loan unless they perform a credit check.
In the same way, before a certificate authority or CA issues you an SSL certificate. they have to validate your organization.
You will have to prove that you actually own and operate the domain. This is SSL certificate Validation.
However, there are different levels of validation.
These range from bare minimum investigation to thorough background investigations.
An SSL certificate from the following validation levels provides the same degree of TLS encryption, however, the only difference is how thoroughly the CA authenticates the identity of your business.
Let’s discuss them.
Domain Validation SSL Certificates
This is the least stringent level of validation and to obtain this certificate, your organization has to prove that it owns and controls the domain.
You can do this by altering the DNS record that is associated with the domain, or sometimes just by sending the CA an email.
Often it is an automated process.
This is the cheapest of all levels of validations and is a good option for blogs, portfolio sites, or small businesses.
Small businesses can make use of this type of validation if they are looking to quickly launch HTPPS, especially if their business is not selling products through their website.
For instance, if you won a restaurant or a coffee shop, you can make sure of Domain Validation SSL Certificates.
Organization Validation SSL Certificates
This type of validation involves a manual vetting process.
The process includes the CA contacting your organization requesting an SSL certificate.
They may also do some further investigation.
Organization Validation SSL Certificate will include the name of your organization and address.
Thus making it more trustworthy for your users than Domain Validation certificates.
Extended Validation SSL Certificates
This type of validation involves a complete background check.
The CA will make sure that your organization or business exists and is legally registered.
This means that your business is actually present at the address your list and so on.
It is important to note that this type of validation takes a long time and is also an expensive one, however, these are more trustworthy than other types.
Moreover, these are important for your website’s address to turn the browser URL bar green, the visual representation for your users that is a TLS encrypted site.
If you are either running a large enterprise, financial institution, or an eCommerce store, then it is important you obtain this validation certificate.
This is especially crucial if you handle sensitive customer data, like passwords, credit card numbers, or names and addresses.
Learn more about the best platforms to build e-Commerce websites.
Best SSL Certificate Providers of 2021
Are you confused about how to get an SSL Certificate?
In this section, we will discuss both paid and free SSL certificates options in 2021 for your website.
Let’s discuss them in detail.
The following is the list of best-paid SSL certificate providers of 2021:
1# Comodo SSL
Why you should buy it?
It is very affordable and provides good customer support.
As a highly affordable provider of SSL services, Comodo SSL has had some significant headway in the past few years.
Much of the success can be attributed to the aggressive pricing with a DV level ‘Positive SSL’ certification costing about $7.02 for 5-year coverage.
Moreover, the premium subscription costs $54.09 for five years.
This package includes a full validation, 256-bit encryptions, and a $250,000 relying on party warranty.
However, the validation can take some time if the information Comodo SSL needs is not available online.
On the positive side, the company has excellent support people if you face any installation or browser issues.
Why you should buy it?
It has a tempting wildcard option as well as Bolstered by Norton’s acquisition.
Although it has operated independently for some years, DigiCert has an acquisition of Norton’s website security and related PKI, or public key infrastructure solutions.
Norton’s secured seal is now DigiCert’s customers and the company uses a plant to transaction those using Symantec products on to DigiCert when they find it appropriate.
The starting price of an SSL certificate is $238 per year, although you might be able to find it better with a 2-year deal.
You can also add Wildcard SANswith pricing starting at $78 per SAN.
3# Entrust Datacard
Why you should buy it?
It has an impressive reputation as a swift operator and the ability to manage a number of certificates.
This company has been in the market since 1994 and has a reputation well garnered as well as for generating certification quickly and smoothly.
Entrust is build around a wide selection of security products.
These products contain ID car printers, authentication systems, credit card printers, and a PKI are among their product lines.
With these all offerings, SSL certificates are one of their strongest offerings.
Many customers like their ability to manage a number of certificates across multiple domains from a management console.
Their prices start at @199 per year for Standard SSL single site products and climb up to $699 for a Wildcard SSL.
This one covers unlimited servers and subdomains.
Many customers are happy with their services at all levels and it seems to justify the extra cost over cheaper options.
Why you should buy it?
They offer great value at the high-end and provides tailor-made enterprise solutions.
GeoTrust has been under different brands, and maybe it is part of DigiCert at the moment.
The business covers 3 main areas: SSL certificates, Signing Services, and SSL for enterprise services.
If you are looking for SSL certification, then GeoTrust offers a comprehensive selection starting with domain-level and progressing up to its True BusinessID with EV level of certification.
It is important to note that their pricing is more competitive at the higher end.
Thus, if you are looking for a single site certificate, you might want to avoid GeoTrust, however, if you need EV or OV level products, you should look at their profile.
Their enterprise solutions are tailor-made for government organizations, healthcare businesses, and financial institutions.
They have identity checks that may be longer than others, but their thoroughness of these checks has enhanced their status.
Why you should buy it?
It is an excellent choice for enterprise customers and provides scalable and flexible solutions.
Many companies have a large client base, however, GlobalSign is very focused on enterprise customers.
It is especially a good option if you are looking to deploy highly scalable PKI solutions.
By taking this route, you can have all the rules, policies, and procedures for using SSL certificates, and other subsequent creation, distribution, and revocation.
However, if your only want SSL certificates, they can do that as well.
With their highly competitive support and organization, they are not a cheap option and even a single site with only DV level certification prices start at $249.
If you want their full EV certification, you will have to pay $599 per year for a single site.
Why you should buy it?
They have an excellent security front however, their pricing structure works for some enterprises.
If you are looking for web hosting plans, then Godaddy is a good option, however, they also provide SLL services.
Instead of offering DV, OV, and EV certification, they cost the same relatively low price.
Their pricing structure is based on a single site, multiple sites, or a domain with complete subdomain cover.
Currently, a single site costs $94.99 per year and a level domain solution is $449.99 per year.
The return on that investment is the best SHA2 and 204-bit encryption and the trust seal is provided by McAfee Secure.
However, keep in mind that their fresh installation is relatively cheap, but renewal can be more expensive.
Now let’s discuss the free SSL Certificates option out there.
The advantages of using Bluehost is they provide free SSL certificate with hosting, is easy to enable and renew, and protects unlimited subdomains for free.
Bluehost is one of the most affordable web hosting solutions and is a widely trusted company that delivers a ton of value.
You will get a free domain name for the first year which makes it a perfect package if you want to get your site online.
However, the domains typically cost $10 to 15 per year which keeps the cost low.
But you will have to pay for their hosting services.
Additionally, they make it remarkably easy to install and renew SSL certificates on your site.
Almost all the technical legwork is off your plate as they use Let’s Encrypt as the certificate authority.
The advantage of using this one is that they provide virtually unlimited free SSL certificates and free Wildcard and SAN certificates.
They are a well-known certificate authority operated by a non-profit organization Internet Security Research Group.
They offer SSL certificates that are free to obtain, easy to renew, and simple to manage.
You can also use them for any server that uses a domain name, like web server, FTP server, or mail server.
One of the biggest advantages of using Let’s Encrypt is that you can create Wildcard and Subject Alternative Name, or SAN certificates.
This means that you can use their certificates to secure multiple domains and subdomains.
The advantage of using Cloudflare is they provide an easy form of SSL security to implement and faster page load times.
Cloudflare is a content delivery network that helps to improve your website security and performance.
It is not s CA like Let’s Encrypt, so it does not issue SSL certificates, but it can help you accomplish some of the same goals.
Regardless of the platform, you are on, you can start using it as soon as possible.
Simply sign up for a free account and change your domain nameservers to Cloudflare.
This way, all traffic to your website will be routed through Cloudflare, where attacks are stopped in their tracks.
Moreover, you do not have to worry about SAN and Wildcard certificates as you can cover as many domains and subdomains as you like.
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The mechanism of SSL certification has two important functions: authentication and encryption.
In addition to this, an SSL certificate also includes a means to encrypt traffic between your user’s computer and your website.
Without encryption, sensitive information can be potentially compromised which intercepts the traffic flowing between your user and the web service.
Do comment in the section below and let us know what you want to learn more about.