Introduction to Free SSL
If you have invested on your website for a cost, is it wise to save money on an SSL certificate? You might save on buying an SSL certificate, but it is a lot riskier for you to not pay for one.
Keep in mind that an SSL certificate is important for your eCommerce business, especially when it comes to security. The sensitive information of your customers needs protection while it is transferred from browser to server. Most of the time, sensitive information contains customer credit card details. Therefore, an SSL that is not so good could damage your business and reputation.
Free SSL certificates provided to some eCommerce do not cost anything because they are not exclusive. That means they are shared. The SSL certificate is registered under the domain name of the eCommerce provider. It is shared with other businesses that want to use it. The only benefit of a free SSL is that you do not have to pay for it, but you might regret it later.
Reasons Why Free SSL is Not Okay:
Major Companies Rarely Trust Free SSL Certificates
Bigger companies include a certificate authority root key in their own products because they met certain conditions. One of them is they have implemented a significant financial investment. To draw investments without offering a paid product is impossible. Therefore, certificate authorities that give free SSL certificates normally have paid solutions. However, their paid solutions do not include the issue speed, sub-domain inclusions, better authentication, and more.
Free SSL Certificates Set off the Security Alarm of Browsers
Most of the time, if an eCommerce site is using a shared SSL certificate, there is a pop-up warning when visitors try to checkout. The reason for this is that the SSL certificate’s configuration only works with their site’s server domain name and not yours. Browsers know that this means something so they are going to warn the user.
These pop-up warnings, though small, gas a huge impact on the image of your store and the customer’s perception. Even if you are very careful with your top-of-the-line eCommerce business, warning pop-ups will make anyone think twice about continuing with their purchase.
Paid SSLs have Features that Free Ones Do Not
Even if the encryption strength is the same across all certificates, other areas have a substantial difference.
Free SSL certificates only give authentication to the domain it was issued for. If the address bar has https://, you can be sure that you are in that domain, and that’s it. You have no way of knowing who runs that website, whether it is a real business or not.
Paid SSL certificates require a higher validation level that provides verified details to users. It is not only about which domain you are in, but which company is behind it as well. Sometimes, this is called a business authentication and only commercial Cas have it. After all, it takes time and resources to validate an organization or company. The free SSL certificates do not have this process.
Websites Look Fraudulent by Using a Free SSL Certificate
A website looks fraudulent if it is using a free SSL certificate, and people will think it is a scam. When you use a free SSL, customers who checkout get directed to your eCommerce provider’s domain page. They expect to stay on your domain, and this could frustrate them. For instance, you have a customer who browses your store -www.you.com. They like the products you sell and decide to buy something. When they click checkout, they are directed to a different URL and domain. Most of the time, it is an unfamiliar URL and it does not match the branding of your store.
The customer will be on edge, making them not continue with the purchase. This is a known practice of fraudsters to lure people in, and they will be sent to a different domain. Major banks actively recognize it and warn their customers about it. Hence, businesses that use free SSL have the risk of being thought of as fraudulent.
Free SSL Certificates Do Not Have a Support Status
Free CAs usually do not have a support feature. When you purchase an SSL certificate, part of the price is the support that is available in case you need anything. There are many moving parts in an SSL/TLS certificate. That means there is a big chance for something to happen. If there is any problem with your free SSL certificate, you must ask in a forum for support or checking old blogs. A paid SSL certificate comes with 24/7 support. This is a huge factor for many people.
Free SSL Certificates are Not for Suitable eCommerce Websites
Online stores, websites, banks, and other sites that accept payments rarely use free SSL certificates to protect the credit card details of their customers. That is because it is not clear which business or company owns the site. People do not completely trust sites that use free certificates, which negatively impacts sales. Aside from that, you must consider that a lot of free SSL certificates cannot be used for eCommerce sites.
Many Points Can be Compromised
Free SSL certificates are shared, which is why it puts your business at greater risk if you use it. If a hacker gets the private keys of the SSL, then all businesses that use the free SSL are compromised. Aside from that, the information that comes from customer credit cards is also exposed. From a hacker’s perspective, if he will put time and effort to steal an SSL certificate’s private keys, it is all worth it. A paid SSL gives him access to one business only, but a free one gives him access to many businesses.
They Do Not Have a Warranty
Free SSL certificates do not have a warranty amount, which is needed in case of a data transition breach. A paid SSL certificate covers you with a warranty that protects your business if there is any breach after the SSL installation.
Free SSL Only Has One Option
Free SSL certificates have one option only, which is single domain validation (DV) SSL. All that is needed is a simple control check of your domain, and that is the only one free SSL offers. Other types of SSL require you to meet a couple of requirements before they give you one. Free SSL certificates are mostly single domain.
Paid SSL certificates give you more versatility, which is important if you have multiple domains and subdomains.
You can also acquire a business authentication SSL issued by commercial CAs. There is no extended validation available in a free SSL certificate. Even a free organization validation is available. If you want the other types of certificates, you must pay for it.
The Certificate has a Shorter Lifespan
Paid SSL certificates can last up to three years before you must renew them. A free SSL certificate must be renewed every 90 days. This adds more SSL certificate management efforts, which you do not have to deal with every so often if your SSL certificate is paid.
These are the reasons why hiring an SSL provider is better and does not put your eCommerce business at risk.