First things first, let’s start off with the basics. We’ll try to keep this as short and sweet as possible so you can be on your way to implementing your very own SSL certificate (if you don’t have one already!)

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which enables encrypted communication to flow between a web browser and a web server. An SSL certificate can also be referred to as a “digital certificate.” Having an SSL helps to greatly decrease the risk of sensitive information from being stolen while in transmission. An SSL essentially allows a browser and server to have a “private conversation.”

Are all SSL certificates created equal?

No. There are several different types of SSL Certificates that exist and they are based on the number of domains or subdomains that are owned. The different types are:

  • Single
  • Wildcard
  • Multi-domain

SSL certificates also vary based on the level of validation that they provide:

  • DV (Domain Validation): This type of certificate is perfect for personal websites and/or blogs. This is the most basic level of SSL certificate that you can have and it requires no paperwork to obtain one. This level of certificate does encrypt information, however, what it fails to do is verify that you are the owner of a legitimate business, which is a must-have with any type of e-commerce website.
  • OV (Organization Validation): This type of certificate is required for organizations and companies that process sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, contact information, etc. What sets an OV-certificate apart from a DV certificate is this: this type of certificate authenticates the owner of the website and requires legitimate business information in order to obtain. There is a process involved with obtaining this type of certificate, however, in our opinion, it is worth every second. You must provide both domain ownership and company ownership to the Certificate Authority in order to get an OV-certificate. The main advantage to having an OV-certificate is that your business name will be listed on the certificate, giving your users that extra bit of trust in your organization and doing business with you online. This type of certificate is suitable for websites that process customer information and/or require login credentials.
  • EV (Extended Validation): Just as the OV-certificate requires a process to obtain, so does the EV-certificate. If you’ve ever visited a website and seen a green browser bar, you’ll know that the site you saw it on has an EV-certificate. This visual trust signals to your users that your website (and their data is safe from hackers). This type of certificate is recommended for websites that require encryption for more sensitive customer information, such as credit card numbers. Contrary to popular belief, the process of obtaining an EV-certificate is not much more complicated than getting an OV.

What are the benefits of an SSL Certificate?

We’re glad you asked! There are many benefits involved when you have an SSL certificate.

First things first, you’ll gain the trust of your users. Have you ever gone to a website and received a warning message in your browser stating that ‘this site is not secure’? You guessed it, the site didn’t have an SSL certificate. If you don’t receive a warning message from your browser, there are a few ways that you can tell if a website has an SSL certificate.

If you look in the left corner of your URL address bar, you’ll notice a padlock icon that you can click to view certificate details. When users see your padlock, they immediately trust your website – they know if they transmit data into one of your forms, that it will not be compromised on its way to your server. You can also tell if a website has an SSL certificate if you see an https:// in the URL bar. If you see a standard http://, you’ll know that the website does not have an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate can also be verified if the website has a trust seal or a green address bar will display when a website has an EV SSL certificate.

But wait…there are more benefits! Not only will your customers thank you for keeping their web browsing experience secure, but Google will give you an SEO bump! Ever since 2014, Google has been on a mission to make the web more secure and within their initiative was making it a necessity for a website to have an active SSL certificate. Today, Google gives an increased amount of weight in ranking boosts to websites that use the HTTPS protocol.

Do all SSL certificates provide the same level of protection?

No. There are different types of SSL certificates that provide different levels of security. When choosing an SSL certificate for your website, we are happy to have a conversation with you regarding which type would be suitable for the individual needs of your website.

The levels of security that are provided by an SSL certificate are determined by their level of encryption. Without sounding like a textbook, we’ll do our best to explain. Each SSL certificate level uses a specific number of bits to generate what is known as the encryption key. This key is used to encrypt the data prior to transmission to the server. Most SSL certificates use either 128-bit or 256-bit, both of which are industry standards for the protection of data. The more bits involved, the stronger the encryption.

What is the easiest way to get an SSL certificate?

Just as we trust our friends at Namecheap with the purchase of domain names, we also highly support their SSL certificate purchase process. They have extremely fair prices and they also have some handy tools on their website to assist you in understanding SSL certificates and how to select one that is appropriate for your business.

In closing…

we want to stress the importance of an SSL certificate, as it is a necessary component of security for any online entity that a.) collects information from its users, b.) utilizes a login functionality (such as WordPress), and c.) wants to increase trust levels with their users.

Feel free to contact us today if you need assistance in selecting or installing your SSL certificate, we’re always happy to help make the web a safer place, starting with your website.