Home » Guides Advanced Article

SSL Certificates: Everything You Need to Know

Not rated

Joe Peters
March 28, 2019

Joe Peters
Joe Peters has written 1 articles for JavaScriptSearch.
View all articles by Joe Peters...

Internet security is becoming an increasingly important topic of conversation. With increasingly high profile data breaches becoming major news, site owners have to be more careful than ever before about making sure that the information of their users is protected. An SSL certificate has become a practical necessity for any site dealing in personal data.

Here's what you need to know.

What is an SSL Certificate?

All interactions between a user and a website server are essentially conversations, and hackers exploit the space between these two servers to extract otherwise sensitive data. An SSL certificate ensures a higher level of security for your server so that hackers can't target the transfer of information between the user and the website server.

SSL certificates make use of public key cryptography. This form of cryptography through the use of a private key which belongs to the user and a public key which belongs to the site's server.

This public key is public domain and known to your server, while the private key is specific to each user. This creates a system where the keys are locked together and all information is coded as a long string of numbers and letters. That means that if the crucial data sent between the site and the server is intercepted, that data appears as a long and meaningless cryptographic code that's impossible to break, even with the use of advanced computational tools.

In short, SSL certificates create a higher level of security between your site's front end and back end. Customers can recognize that a site is properly encrypted via SSL because sites with the proper certificates show an "https" instead of an "http" in front of their domain name.

Why Do You Need an SSL Certificate?

The most basic but most important justification for getting an SSL certificate is that it protects the sensitive data of your users. Internet users are becoming increasingly more aware of internet threats, and using an SSL certificate can provide them with greater peace of mind. A data breach can ruin a company's reputation utterly, and the added effort of investing in an SSL certificate can be a worthwhile security safeguard.

The advantages of an SSL certificate are obvious for ecommerce sites that store credit card and other payment information for customers, since users can feel comfortable using an SSL protected site even if they're accessing it from public WiFi. SSL certificates are increasingly becoming the standard on social media platforms any site where users are asked to create their own profile.

SSL is becoming the new standard, and some of the most important gatekeepers on the internet are making efforts to essentially make a certificate mandatory. As of 2014, the presence of an SSL certificate is a factor in Google search rankings. That means ownership of a certificate can have a meaningful effect on how high your site appears in internet searches.

Then there's WordPress, one of the biggest web hosting platforms around. The company has started a policy of only partnering with web hosts that offer SSL certificates as the default. As web security develops, you can expect the lack of an SSL certificate to limit your possibilities.

What Are the Different Types of SSL Certificates?

While all SSL certificates make use of the same cryptographic fundamentals, not all certificates are created equal. Three types of certificates are currently available, and understanding the differences between them can have a major effect on your site's security.

Domain validated (DV) certificates are the easiest and cheapest SSL certificates to acquire, but they aren't likely to inspire confidence from security-minded users. Applicants aren't required to provide organizational information, so users don't have the means to verify the legitimacy of the business. That makes it a reasonable choice for sites that don't store sensitive information, but it's not usually appropriate for ecommerce site.

Organizational validated (OV) certificates provide a higher level of authority to users, since the registration information of the site is compared against government-back business registries. As a result, users can be confident in the authenticity of the company and have the means to hold them accountable if something goes wrong. OV certificates are the usual standard for commercial websites.

Extended validated (EV) certificates are the gold standard, and they're used by some of the biggest businesses in the world. EV certificates come with an additional level of third party vetting. While there are multiple qualifications necessary, EV certificates largely check to make sure that the business is a physical entity and vet the identity of the website's individual owner.

How Do You Get an SSL Certificate?

The process of getting an SSL certificate can vary depending on the type used. DV certificates can often be acquired in minutes, while EV certificates require a much higher level of scrutiny for approval.

There are a number of vendors who provide SSL certificated available, and they're known as a Certificate Authority. You can find reputable CAs with a quick web search, but your web host should be able to connect you with a CA or even handle the certification process themselves.

Once you pick a CA, you'll be asked to pick the type of certificate you want and provide any necessary information so that they can complete the validation process. This could take anywhere from a few minutes for a DV to a few days for an EV.

Certificate installation can vary depending on your CA or your web host. If you have any questions, you'll want to contact your host directly so that they can provide you with precise information on how to secure your site.

SSL certification is becoming the standard for website security. While it's not a necessity for every website operating today, it very well could be soon. That's why it's important to secure your site with a certificate sooner rather than later.

Add commentAdd comment (Comments: 0)  



Related Resources

Other Resources