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What is SSL Certificate?

SSL certificates
SSL certificates

What is SSL Certificate?

While the creation of the web has provided the people with a very powerful tool to get their jobs done, gain more knowledge, communicate with anybody, and satisfy their clients, the risks also abound. Businesses running on the internet are faced with a lot of dangers such as identity theft and financial losses. During the first quarter of 2018, statistics showed that online industries engaged in payment services accounted for 39.4 percent of online businesses attached by phishers, financial institutions at 14.2 percent, and SaaS/webmail services at 18.7 percent. These risks are also keeping the clients on their toes when engaging in an online business.

Why SSL certificates are important?

People provide their data only to businesses whom they trust and SSL certificates make a website trustworthy. This is why e-commerce business should get SSL certificates. SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is a protocol which encrypts data passed by the client to the business owner’s website and vice versa. It’s like a fortification that acts as a barrier to prevent fraudulent attempts to barge in the online transactions. It also acts as an identification for businesses whether it is safe to engage in their online business or not.

SSL certificates are found on pages that require end-users or clients to submit their sensitive digital information like passwords and credit card details, including login pages, online forms, and payment pages. If your business organizations are engaged in transacting businesses with clients online, including receiving online payments or the submission of confidential information, you should secure an SSL certificate.

SSL certificates are part of building trust and security into an organization’s website. Aside from this, website pages that are served securely via secured address bars (https) improve their search rankings as Google boosts the SEO ranking of websites that have SSL certificates. When internet users browse pages which on https addresses, all information shared between the users’ browser and the web server are coded.

Even when an organization is not engaged in business transactions, securing an SSL certificate will help its rankings. So, while not every company would need to get an SSL certificate, those who collect data from their websites should have it.

SSL certificatesSSL as a protective barrier

SSL protects consumers and businesses through encryption and identification. Transferring non-encrypted data make clients vulnerable to data theft and fraud. To protect our businesses and our consumers, there is a need to encrypt or hide the digital information sent from one computer to another.

For instance, when a client sends his credit card details from his laptop to the server, another computer can grab the information without him knowing. Encryption is turning data into a set of codes that makes it difficult for unauthorized entities to take sensitive information.

But even before details are encrypted, computers should first agree on how to encrypt the information. The server will then send the certificate and the client’s computer will signal the start of encryption to which the server will respond before all the messages get encrypted. In this way, other computers would only get junk when they try to grab that coded information.

SSL certificates

SSL as an identification

On the other hand, identification will help the clients recognize whether the computer that he is linking to or passing his information to is trustworthy. Websites of organizations or companies with an SSL certificate are more trusted by site visitors since they know their data passed through that site is secured.

To ask for a certificate, the organization or business will provide information about their web server, what the company is, and its location. The certification authority will then verify whether this information is correct. They will include public records related to the company too, to check its authenticity. After this process, the certification authority will create a certificate and cryptographically sign it.

Here are some of the information included in the certificate:

  • Version
  • Serial number
  • Algorithm identification
  • Issuer
  • Validity
  • Company details
  • Subject public key info
  • Algorithm
  • Key
  • Issuing company identification
  • Company identification
  • Signature algorithm
  • Signature

Once the certificate is available, the company will then install the certificate in its server. This certificate will then be used in the process of exchanging information between computers and servers.

SSL certificates

Buying an SSL certificate

If you plan to buy an SSL certificate, you must consider several factors including the following details:

  • Type of validation
  • Issuance duration
  • Warranty period
  • Covered domains and subdomains
  • Brand Reputation

So how do you know which certificate you should get?

First, identify your business size and function. Personal blogs or micro businesses may choose free SSL certificates available, which are easy to get, install, and provide the industry-standard encryption. The disadvantage of free SSL certificates is that they expire quickly and offers limited options. Paying for an SSL certificate provides organizations and businesses with scalability and more support.

SSL certificates

Different types of SSL certificates

There are currently three types of certificates that provide three levels of trust, including:

  • Domain validated certificate– The domain validated certificate can be used by anyone who owns a domain so long as you can prove that you are the owner of the domain. To check whether you own it, the certification authority may send an email or call you. The advantage of getting the domain validation (DV) certificate is the speed of getting a certificate within minutes since there is no need to provide other validation documents. However, because your company is not validated, visitors will most likely think twice before engaging with your e-commerce site. Visitors or prospective clients cannot validate the business entity whether it is legitimate or not. This is one reason why domain validated certificates should not be used by those engaged in businesses. It is the most affordable type of certificate but it also comes with high risk.
  • Organization validated certificate– Similar to the domain validated certificate, the certification authority will also check the rights to own a certain domain. In addition, it will also vet the authenticity of an organization through public records. This information will then be displayed on a page when a customer clicks the Secure Site Seal. Compared to the DV certificate holder, e-commerce sites with organization validated certificate are more likely to be trusted by site visitors.
  • Extended validation certificate – Extended Validation certificates give site visitors more confidence in your websites. It helps them recognize a site of an organization who controls and own the domain and whose identity has been vetted by the third party certification authority. The sites with EV SSL certificates will display a green address bar on the web browser. This type of SSL certificates is very helpful to make sure that you are not browsing a site that just looks like a copy of another company or organization.