A webmaster’s handbook on SSL certificates

In the world of eCommerce, security is paramount. Fear of fraud continues to keep millions of consumers from shopping online. SSL Certificates give you an easy, cost-effective way to protect your visitors and earn their trust.

To enable SSL on a website, you will need to get SSL Certificate that identifies you and install it on the server. SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details.

What are the types of SSL Certificates?

An SSL Certificate is necessary to protect websites and enable them for data security. However, there are different types of SSL Certificates and the website owners often are unsure of the type of certificate they need for their online security needs.

Dedicated SSL Certificates

Dedicated SSL Certificates are those being purchased directly from Certificate Authorities to be used solely by the owner for his domain. This is perfect for those who are confident in making their businesses go big time, quickly. It also cannot be used with other domains or even on the same location’s subdomain due to its focused security functionality, which can be very costly.

Shared SSL Certificates

From the very sense of the word, Shared SSL certificates are those security tools that you can share to other people. It would be either that you might share your certificate with others, or you share SSL certificates that are owned by companies or businesses. You may have it free or at a lesser price, but you will not have ownership with it as the name appears belong to a different person. A shared SSL certificate is used by multiple sites on the same IP address so that each site doesn’t have to get their own certificate.

Free SSL Certificates

Free SSL certificates are being offered by some companies and businesses for the benefit of customers. But there are chances that these certificates, being free of charge, may not offer the kind of protection that paid certificates have. Be sure to check if the company where the SSL tool coming from is reputable and credible.

UPDATE (7th June 2016) : Let’s Encrypt is an open certificate authority backed by internet giants such as Google and Cisco. It was launched for public use on April 12 2016, and provides reliable, free encryption for websites. The certificates can be set to auto-renew. So, it’s pretty much a fire-and-forget solution. The downside is that, you’ll need a bit of system administration knowledge and root access to setup the system.

Let's Encrypt free certificate

How the certificate authority is displayed in the certificate

Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates

Extended Validation SSL Certificates are the first SSL Certificates to adhere to industry-wide certification guidelines established by leading Web browser vendors and Certificate Authorities, including Network Solutions. An EV SSL Certificate is more than just a transaction protector. Apart from creating secure transactions, it also reassures visitors about the business a site conducts. Among the new features of EV SSL Certificates is the color-coding of the Web browser’s address bar to signal secure connections.

Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificates

This assures the validity of a Web site by verifying that the applicant is a legitimate business. Before issuing the SSL certificate, the CA performs a rigorous validation procedure, including checking the applicant’s business credentials (such as the Articles of Incorporation) and verifying the accuracy of its physical and Web addresses. An Organizationally Validated SSL Certificate is an excellent website security option for any business conducting online transactions and accepting sensitive data, such as credit-card numbers, from customers.

Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificates

Domain SSL Certificates are fully supported and share the same browser recognition with OrganizationSSL, but come with the advantage of being issued almost immediately and without the need to submit company paperwork. This makes DomainSSL ideal for businesses needing a low cost SSL quickly and without the effort of submitting company documents.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

A Wildcard SSL Certificate can help you if you want to secure your multiple sub-domains over multiple servers all by one single certificate. It saves you time and money over buying and managing of individual certificates for every sub-domain.

Instant SSL Certificate

An Instant SSL Certificate is one of the most cost-effective fast-installed SSL Certificate to secure a webserver. Customers could be assured about a complete security of the transaction data till it reaches the intended webserver. All Instant SSL orders include a dynamic TrustLogo site seal which allows visitor to verify your business credentials in real-time – leading to increased visitor conversion rate, lower Web site abandonment and an increase in average purchase price.

Essential SSL Certificate

An Essential SSL Certificate is highly trusted in the industry as a quick, reliable solution for web security. It can be of significant value to you if you are an e-merchant as it secures E-commerce sites in no time.

Code Signing Certificate

A Code Signing Certificate facilitates the protection of software code and content for the software publishers and the users downloading it. It typically allows the software developers to include their digital signatures and information with the software.

Depending on the type of SSL Certificate applied for, the organization will need to go through differing levels of vetting. Once you have done the SSL install, it activates the http protocol (over port 443) and you can access a site securely by changing the URL from http:// to http://. When an SSL certificate is installed on a website, you can be sure that the information you enter (contact or credit card information), is secured and only seen by the organization that owns the website.

The above is a very rough outline on SSL certificates , if you have any questions, we would be happy to talk to you! 🙂