An SSL certificate is crucial for securing user data and thwarting intruders. It secures sensitive information, including login credentials, financial information, and medical records, by encrypting data sent between a website and its users. A professional website that handles sensitive data is advised to obtain an SSL certificate, as it is a crucial step in data security.
Getting an SSL C is significantly more important if your business collects sensitive client data or has an e-commerce website. E-commerce websites are frequently targeted by hackers who want to steal credit card numbers or other private information. Customers can feel secure using your website, knowing it is protected with an SSL certificate.
What precisely is an SSL certificate, then? Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a technique used to encrypt data as it is transmitted between a website and its users, is known by the initials of the acronym. Every data sent is secured and secure because of the encryption offered by the SSL C.
Professionals can use an SSL certificate in a variety of ways. For any website you construct that handles sensitive data, consider getting an SSL certificate if you’re a website developer. If you work in IT, install SSL certificates on all company websites to guarantee uniform security measures. If you own a company, you might get an SSL certificate to show that you care about the security and privacy of your clients.
ExplainedExplained, SSL prevents unwanted access to or alteration of data sent between two systems and guarantees secure internet connections. The URL in the address bar is accompanied by a padlock icon that denotes SSL protection for the website you are visiting.
The SSL protocol has undergone multiple revisions since it was first introduced some 25 years ago, all of which have, at some point, had security concerns. Therefore, the protocol was revised and given the new name TLS (Transport Layer Security), which is still used today. Yet, the acronym SSL has endured, and the protocol’s new name is frequently used to refer to it.
What is the functioning principle of SSL certificates?
Data communication between users and websites, or between two systems, is secure and private thanks to the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol. Its primary purpose is to scramble data in transit using encryption techniques to stop hackers from reading it as it travels over the connection. Names, addresses, credit card numbers, and other potentially sensitive information, such as financial information, are included in this data.
Following a series of stages is how SSL operates. A browser or server first attempts to connect to a website protected by SSL. After establishing a connection, the browser or server asks the web server to identify itself. The web server responds by sending a copy of its SSL certificate to the browser or server.
The browser or server must determine if it trusts the SSL C in the following step. If so, it alerts the web server of this. The web server then initiates an SSL-encrypted session in response to a digitally signed acknowledgement.
Lastly, the web server and the browser or server exchange encrypted data. Any data exchanged during this encrypted session is guaranteed unintelligible by anyone who intercepts it. When sending potentially sensitive data, this level of security is extremely crucial.
An “SSL handshake” is the term used to describe how an SSL certificate secures a website. Despite its name, this procedure is finished in a matter of milliseconds. The term HTTPS, which stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, will appear in the URL of a website once it has been secured with an SSL certificate. In contrast, a website without an SSL certificate will show the letters HTTP in its URL.
A padlock icon also denotes a secure website in the URL address bar, and visitors can feel secure using this padlock symbol as a trusted sign. Users can view the SSL certificate’s details by clicking on the padlock icon, which typically includes the name of the Domain for which the certificate was issued, the entity to whom it was published, the Certificate Authority that issued it, the digital signature of the Certificate Authority, any associated subdomains, the issue date, and the certificate’s expiration date.
The private key is a crucial component of an SSL C that is only sometimes visible. Nonetheless, the public key is typically present and is used to encrypt the data sent between the user and the website.
Overall, the SSL handshake and SSL certificate cooperate to ensure that sensitive data communicated through the website is encrypted and secure.
An SSL certificate is crucial for your website – here’s why.
Websites must have SSL certificates to protect user data, prove website ownership, stop false site versions, and build user trust. This is crucial when a website asks visitors to log in, provide sensitive data like credit card details or access private information like financial or health benefits.
Organisations must have an SSL certificate to obtain an HTTPS web address, the secure variant of HTTP. SSL is used by HTTPS to encrypt website traffic, guaranteeing the privacy of sensitive data. Without an SSL certificate, browsers could label a website as “not secure,” which may make people less likely to trust it and encourage companies to switch to HTTPS.
The security of sensitive data, such as login credentials, credit card and bank account information, personally identifiable data like name, address, and phone number, legal papers and contracts, medical records, and proprietary data, is greatly aided by SSL C.
SSL Certificate Varieties
Various SSL certificates exist, featuring varying levels of validation. The six main types are Extended Validation certificates (EV SSL), Organization Validated certificates (OV SSL), Domain Validated certificates (DV SSL), Wildcard SSL certificates, Multi-Domain SSL certificates (MDC), and Unified Communications Certificates (UCC).
SSL certificates known as Domain Validated SSL (DV SSL) require little verification throughout the application process. They give only a modest amount of encryption and reduced assurance because of this low level of validation. As a result, they are frequently employed for blogs and informational websites that don’t accept money online or gather user data. This SSL certificate type is among the easiest and least expensive to acquire. Website owners need to confirm their domain ownership by replying to an email or phone call as part of the validation procedure. When the certificate is displayed in a browser, only the HTTPS prefix and the padlock icon are visible; the company name is not.
The most expensive and high-end SSL C available is an EV certificate. They are typically used by well-known websites that manage private data and support online transactions. Once activated, this SSL certificate displays a padlock, HTTPS, the company name, and the nation in the browser’s address bar. The information about the website owner in the address bar helps to distinguish the website from sites that could be hazardous. The website’s owner must undergo a defined identity verification process to install an EV SSL certificate to demonstrate their legal right to the Domain’s exclusive rights.
Similar to EV SSL certificates, OV SSL certificates must undergo a rigorous validation process to be obtained. They provide a comparable level of certainty as a result. These certificates distinguish websites from unreliable ones by displaying the website owner’s information in the address bar. EV SSLs are the most expensive SSL certificate, but they are necessary for encrypting sensitive user data during transactions, making them the second most expensive type. An OV SSL C is required for commercial or public-facing websites to safeguard users’ private data.
With a single certificate, wildcard SSL certificates let you protect an unlimited number of sub-domains and a primary domain. If you need to secure several sub-domains, this is a more affordable option than buying individual SSL certificates for each sub-domain. Any valid sub-domain sharing the same primary Domain is denoted by an asterisk (*) in the common name of a Wildcard SSL C. Such sub-domains as payments.yourdomain.com, login.yourdomain.com, mail.yourdomain.com, download.yourdomain.com, and anything.yourdomain.com can all be secured with a single Wildcard certificate for the *website.
A Multi-Domain SSL C (MDC) can protect several domain and sub-domain names. Except for local/internal ones, it can secure a mix of distinct domains and sub-domains with different TLDs.
To give you an idea, below are a few domains and subdomains that MDC can secure:
- example.anything.com.au \scheckout.example.com
Subdomains are not supported by multi-Domain certificates by default. The hostnames for both www.example.com and example.com must be supplied throughout the certificate acquisition procedure to secure them with a single multi-Domain certificate.
Microsoft Exchange and Live Communications servers were the primary targets of developing the Unified Communications Certificate (UCC), sometimes called Multi-Domain SSL certificates. However, any website owner can now secure many domain names with a single certificate using UCCs. These certificates, which display a padlock on a browser and are organizationally recognized, offer website visitors a secure browsing environment. UCCs can also be used as EV SSL certificates, which provide website visitors with the maximum level of assurance through the green address bar. To choose the appropriate SSL C type for your website, you must have a solid understanding of the many types available.
What are the steps to get an SSL certificate?
Certificate Authorities (CAs) issue millions of yearly SSL certificates, enabling reliable and transparent online interactions. Depending on the desired level of protection, SSL certificates can be purchased directly from a CA for a price ranging from free to hundreds of dollars.
The actions listed below must be followed to obtain an SSL certificate:
- Ensure your WHOIS information is accurate and updated, and prepare your server.
- Your hosting firm can help you create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server.
- Send the CSR to the Certificate Authority so that it may verify the information about your firm and Domain.
- Once the procedure is finished, install the supplied certificate.
- Set up the certificate on your server or web host.
- Set up the certificate on your server or web host.
Your certificate will arrive in a certain amount of time, depending on the provider and level of certification. While Extended Validation SSL certificates can take up to a week to issue, Domain Validation SSL certificates can be issued instantly.
Is it possible to use an SSL certificate on multiple servers?
On the same server, utilizing a single SSL C for numerous domains is possible. Depending on the vendor, it may also be used on various servers. As discussed before, Multi-Domain SSL certificates can be used to do this.
As their name suggests, multi-domain SSL certificates support some domains, the exact number set by the Certificate Authority issuing the certificate. Unlike a Single Domain SSL certificate, which is made to secure just one Domain, it is different.
Subject Alternative Name, or SAN, certificates sometimes refer to multi-domain SSL certificates. Each multi-domain certificate comes with extra fields called SANs that may be used to list other domains you want to protect with the same certificate.
Multiple domains are also supported by Wildcard SSL Certificates and Universal Communications Certificates (UCCs), the latter supporting an unlimited number of subdomains.
When an SSL certificate expires, what occurs?
SSL certificates have an expiration date and are not permanent. The SSL industry’s regulating body, the Certificate Authority/Browser Forum, stipulates that SSL Cs shall expire after no more than 27 months, or two years plus an optional three-month extension if renewed before the preceding certificate’s expiration date.
The information required to authenticate servers and organizations must be routinely re-validated to maintain accuracy, which is why SSL certificates expire. Due to the rapid change in online ownership of businesses and websites, current authentication information is required.
Before being lowered to three and eventually two years with a potential three-month extension, the SSL certificate’s validity period of this may extend for a maximum of five years. The Certificate Authority/Browser Forum had voted against mandating one-year SSL certificates, but Google, Apple, and Mozilla agreed to implement them in 2020. As this took effect in September 2020, the validity period will be shortened.
The website becomes inaccessible when an SSL certificate expires. Within milliseconds of a person visiting a website, their browser validates the SSL C as part of the SSL handshake. The visitor will be informed of possible security hazards if the expired SSL certificate is.
Although visitors can continue, doing so is not advised owing to the danger of viruses and cyberattacks. This results in a high bounce rate for the website owner as consumers would move to other sites.
Keeping track of expiration dates can be difficult for larger firms with numerous certificates to manage across numerous websites and networks. A certificate management platform is ideal for managing digital certificates across an organization’s infrastructure. To keep track of renewal dates, it is vital to often enter into these platforms.
Allowing an expired SSL certificate renders it invalid, blocking safe website transactions. Before the expiration date, Certification Authorities (CAs) will request a renewal. CAs send out expiration notices at predetermined intervals, typically beginning 90 days before the expiration date. To ensure the proper individuals receive these reminders, it is advised to use an email distribution list rather than a specific individual’s email address.