What Are SSL Certificates?

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What Are SSL Certificates?

What Are SSL Certificates?

To know what are SSL Certificates first you need to know what SSL means. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, it was a secure protocol of communications used on the internet until the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol took over in 1999. People still refer to SSL when talking about the new protocol. An SSL Certificate is a data file that contains information about the website. Using the TLS protocol, it allows secure communications between the server that hosts the website and the browser of the device that is visiting it.

SSL Certificates must be issued by a trusted Certificate Authority so browsers can identify the certificate as legit.

When the communication is not secure the browser uses the application protocol or HTTP protocol. You will see on the address bar of the browser something like http://www.yourdomain.com. The data is transmitted as plain text.

When you are using the secure protocol the address changes to HTTPS. You will see something like https://www.yourdomain.com. Depending on the issuer of the certificate and also on the browser, you could see that the address bar changes in color, usually to green. Maybe a padlock’s icon appears, it represents the secure communication. The data is transmitted as a complex code.

How Do SSL Certificates Work?

When an SSL certificate is created, 2 random keys are created in the process. One key is called the private key which is only known by the server when the certificate is installed. The second key is called the public key. Anybody has access to the public key. The browser uses the public key to encrypt the data that’s being sent and the server uses the private key to decrypt the data.

In other words. Data is transformed from simple text to complex code, transmitted, and then transformed back to simple text once it reaches its destination. To do that the server and the browser need some kind of dictionary. This dictionary uses the keys and cryptography to translate the info. If you have the wrong key, you’ll get a wrong translation.

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Why Get An SSL Certificate?

There are multiple reasons why you should get an SSL certificate. Below we’ll present you the 5 main reasons:

5 Main Reasons To Get An SSL Certificate For Your Website

  • The communication between your website and the visitor’s device will be unreadable by third parties. That means that hackers won’t be able to understand the info that’s being transmitted, even if they get access to it, because all data is going to be encrypted. So, sensitive data as keywords, personal info, credit card info, etc. Will be transmitted securely.
  • The info that’s being transmitted can’t be modified. The info sent from the server to the visitor’s device, or from the device to the server, can’t be manipulated in the middle of the way. The integrity of the data being transmitted is guaranteed.
  • SEO is going to be affected if you don’t have an SSL certificate installed for your website. Search engines now take special attention to the security of your site. If your site is not secure it won’t position well on the search engine’s results pages.
  • Browsers will scare people away from your site if you don’t have an SSL certificate installed. By default, web browsers are configured to display a warning before showing any data from a site if it doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed, or if the certificate was not issued by a trusted certificate authority. The warning says that your site is not secure and it will try to persuade visitors from entering the website. Your visitors won’t even take a peek at your site.
  • You’ll develop trust from your visitors. Nowadays people are getting more cautious when it comes to the sites they visit. If you don’t have a certificate installed your site will look suspicious, and visitors won’t trust you. They will fully trust you when the whole experience on your site has been satisfactory. But, first impressions do matter!
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Where To Get SSL Certificates?

Usually hosting services come with a free SSL Certificate, but you have to activate it to use it. Take a look at all the features displayed on the description of your hosting service if you are going to buy hosting services and see if they offer a free SSL certificate. If you already have a hosting services account, log in your hosting panel and check for security or SSL section to see if you have a certificate available.

If your hosting doesn’t come with a free SSL certificate or you already use it on another domain, there are 3 options in general.

  • Buying an SSL certificate from your hosting provider. Look for that option inside your hosting panel, or talk to customer service and ask for it.
  • Buying an SSL certificate from a third party. You can buy trusted SSL certificates from a company different from your hosting provider. Namecheap has certificates at great prices in the security section. You can get a 1 or 2-year contract, after which you just have to renew your service. There are different types of certificates adequate to different needs, choose the one you need.
  • Use a free SSL certificate. Also, you can get trusted free SSL certificates that will be perfect for small sites. SSL For Free offers free certificates. Each free certificate you get from them lasts only 3 months, so you have to manually install a new certificate every 3 months.

How To Choose An SSL Certificate

There are different types of SSL Certificates. Each type offers some features that are adequate to a kind of website. You should choose the kind that fits your site needs.

The Main 3 Kinds Of SSL Certificates.

  • Domain Validation: Or DV, are suited for blogs, personal websites, and some apps, it doesn’t verify the owner’s site information, should not be used for e-commerce or sites where you need to log in, are easy to activate, are available almost immediately, and you don’t need to fill the paperwork.
  • Organization Validation: Or OV, are suited for sites that need login credentials, the site owner’s information is verified by the certificate issuer, you need to fill the paperwork, and visitors can access information data about the owner of the certificate.
  • Extended Validation: Or EV, are recommended for sites that handle sensitive data such as credit card information, the site owner’s information is verified in dept by the certificate issuer, it is the highest trustworthy feature, it activates the green bar on the address bar of the browser and you need to fill the paperwork.

Besides the 3 kinds of certificates described before, you can get SSL certificates for single or multiple domains. There are 3 types of SSL certificates based on the number of domains it allows.

  • Single Domain SSL: It provides security for only one domain or subdomain.
  • Wildcard SSL: It provides security for multiple subdomains that belong to the same domain.
  • Multi-Domain SSL: It provides security to many domains on one certificate. Those domains have to be hosted on the same server.

We have given you a basic tutorial about SSL certificates. If you need help with your certificate or with anything else just ask us!!!