What are SSL Certificates and How Important is Getting One for Your Website?
Secure Sockets Layers are better known by their abbreviation – SSL. SSL Certificates are a digital security standard which websites around the world use to help enable and make encrypted communication possible between a browser and a web server.
SSL Certificates work by binding digitally a cryptographic key to an organization’s identity. Millions of people and online-based businesses already do this. These certificates help to minimize the breach of sensitive information, for example, usernames, passwords, credit card information, emails and other sensitive information which could be at risk of stealing or tampering by hackers or identity thieves.
Simply put, SSL Certificates allow private exchanges between two intended parties to happen. When the SSL Certificates are installed on a web server, they activate the padlock and the https protocol. This protocol allows for a secure connection from the web server to the browser. For example, when you enter sensitive information on an online shopping website, the https on your browser address window will be your indication.
The Features of SSL
SSL Certificates require installation onto a web server to create a secure connection. This action generally serves two functions, which are:
- To authenticate the identity of the website, which guarantees patrons that they are not visiting a bogus or fake website.
- Encrypting the data between both parties.
SSL Certificates vary based on the number of domain names or subdomains owned. Some examples of SSL Certification include:
- Single– This secures one fully-qualified domain name or subdomain name.
- Wildcard – This covers one domain name and an unlimited number of its subdomains.
- Multi-Domain – This secures multiple domain names.
SSL Certificates also depends on the level of validation needed, such as:
- Domain Validation – This is the least expensive, and covers basic encryption and verification of the ownership of the domain name registration. Domain validations can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
- Organization Validation – Organization validation is the basic encryption and verification of ownership of the domain name registration. In this instance, the owner’s details (for example the name and address) pass the authentication test. This option can generally take a couple of hours or up to several days.
- Extended Validation – This option provides the highest degree of security because of the thorough examination before the issuance of the certificate (and as strictly specified in guidelines set by the SSL certification industry’s governing consortium).
Where to Get SSL?
The most important part of an SSL Certificate, however, is they are issued by the Certificate Authority (CA). It is an organization that is responsible for verifying the identity and legitimacy of an entity requesting a certificate. There are hundreds of trusted CAs depending on what kind of platform you are on. So, it does not matter if you’re using Windows, macOS, iOS, Android or even Unix, it still holds the same function.
Essentially, these CAs are the gatekeepers for the SSL Certificates of your favourite websites. Their role is to accept certificate applications, authenticate applications, issue certificates and maintain status information on certificates. This makes sure that the website you are on is legit and your data is secure.