The Internet is one of the biggest revolutions in the history of mankind. It has opened up new vistas for trade, information, communication, etc. And it is progressing every day at a pace that one cannot imagine. However, it is a well-known fact that there are two sides to everything that exists. The Internet too has a darker side. Hacks, threats, and malicious content are all everyday occurrences on the Internet.
If you as a person or business have an online presence then you must be aware of how difficult it is to get customers to sign up to avail of the services offered by you. There are many websites on the web, and the competition is very tough. Most Internet users hesitate to visit any website because of safety issues. Therefore, to attract prospective customers to your website, you need to ensure that nothing is hidden from them and their data is fully secure when they visit your site with the help of SSL.
But how does SSL provide security and keep your site safe for the users? Here in this article, we will cover all the aspects of SSL that one should know before they set up their website’s SSL certificate. Additionally, as there are different types of SSL, we will shed some light on which kind is best for you.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is deployed on your website to provide you with cryptographic security. As a result, any communication your website users have will be cryptic and hidden from anyone else, including from you. Transport Layer Security (TLS) succeeded SSL as its successor.
But even after getting the latest security filter i.e. TLS, most of the websites still use SSL since SSL establishes a secure channel between two machines, or you could say devices that are communicating via the Internet. As soon as you install the SSL certificate on your website, the HTTP protocol that the server uses to respond to an HTTP request is converted to HTTPS, where S stands for secure.
Types of SSL Certificates
While browsing the Internet, you have never seen evidence of an SSL certificate on any website. It’s just the HTTP being converted into HTTPS but nothing more.
Well, the SSL certificates are differentiated based on their validation. The other difference you should look for is the level of authentication provided by the Certificate Authority (CA). In terms of SSL validations, we can broadly break them down into three categories, which are:
1. Domain Validated SSL Certificate
With this validation of the SSL certificate, you get the domain registered, and it will also make your website’s URLs run on a site administrator. This type of certificate authority will be validated to your website via email, DNS, or straight onto the HTTP.
When you are using email for the validation of the domain SSL certificate, the CA will be sending an email to the administrator of the website. From there, it is up to the owner or the website manager to click on the link provided in the certificate and request a certificate from CA for verification.
For DNS verification, the owner must verify that they own the website. This can be done via a DNS record, which is attached to your website’s domain. A DNS record is present in the text format showing the IP address of each domain marking their association with the owner.
Lastly, the third method, which uses HTTP for validation, will require you to provide ownership by creating and saving a text file in the public webroot of your domain. Once the CA validates the files that you’ve provided, they will sign the SSL certificate, and from then on, all the web browsers will show you have the SSL certificate by changing the HTTP to HTTPS connection.
There is one caution about the domain validated certificates that you must know, and these certificates are encryption-based only. Also, they are easy to get as it requires you to prove your ownership of the website and the way you get the certification. This leads to many advantages for the website’s owners, but at the same time, it does have some disadvantages too. If we have to recommend this type of SSL certificate to anyone, we will only recommend it to those website owners that are running just a blog, and there’s no monetary transaction involved in it from the customer end.
Advantages of Domain Validated Certificate
- They are cost-effective, and the process for validation is simple. In most cases, it is fully automated, thus saving you both time and money for the SSL verification.
- You can get an SSL certificate in just a few minutes, and you don’t even need to send any extra documents as proof of your business.
Disadvantages of Domain Validated Certificate
- It’s not as secure as the rest of the SSL certificates, and in no time, a hacker can validate one and use it on your website while keeping their identity hidden at all times.
- Some knowledgeable visitors might not be inclined to provide you with their payment details when the option shows up and will distrust your website.
2. Organization Validated (OV) SSL Certificate
Without a doubt, this is a high assurance certificate that is used on the Internet to validate the websites that are being run by companies, businesses, and even by organizations. If you are a university and want your website to get an SSL certificate, this is the best option. On the other hand, if you’re going to expand your business of car sales by going online, then also you will need the organization’s validated SSL certificate. The main objective of the OV is to provide encryption to the user’s sensitive information, which they use for making transactions and other logins.
The length of the signature is 2048-bit, and it is powered by 256-bit encryption. When you are done getting the OV SSL certificate, your organization’s seal will be present on the website, which is a significant trust indicator for the customers and shows that the website is linked to a legitimate business. Also, this will make the user information sharing to be confidential, thus, increasing the conversion rate of your business.
Process of Getting OV SSL Certificate
To get OV SSL from the CA, the website owner needs to send the business document that proves their authorization or ownership of the business. The documentation required from the CA is entirely random, and it’s up to CA to decide which document they consider to fill up the verification requirements. Once they make sure that all the provided documents are original, they will provide the OV SSL.
But even before asking for the business verification, the CA will be asking you to provide the domain ownership of the organization to verify the domain that you bought online. This can be done using email verification from your end. Also, file-based verification will be enough if it is sent directly from a domain registrar. Keep in mind your domain registrar’s information has to be present in the public repository. Here is the list of the documents which the CA might ask you for verification:
- Legal existence record
- CA-approved attestation letter
- Legal government license
- Incorporation article
- Bank statement of your business transactions for the last one year or fiscal
- Letter of issuer’s relation with an organization
- Third-party list of databases that you are using for the organization.
This whole process of verification takes around 2-3 days if all the documents are correct.
3. Extended Validation SSL Certificate/ EV SSL
Last on the list of different types of SSL certificates is the Extended Validation certificate (EV SSL). This is the highest form factor of authentication in the SSL industry. When the initial process of EV SSL verification starts, the website will be passed through the globally standardized identity verification process. The process will have a set of vetting principles designed by the CA to give exclusive rights to the website owners. Moreover, if you want to get the EV SSL, you need to prove your business’s legal, operational, and physical existence. Along with these, you must provide the proof of entity by the issuance of the certificate from the local authority.
To be honest, if we look at the verification process of both OV and DV certification, then we can observe that they are not quite comprehensive. The DV certification only requires the website owner to present proof of being the website owner. The OV certification does include some identity information about the site owner, but nothing is more extensive than EV. With this certificate, a user can look at the information of your business from the website along with the certificate details. There are several advantages of using EV SSL to keep your customer’s data secured.
The most important benefit is that your customers will be protected from phishing attacks, which still pose a significant threat to most websites in 2021. According to one of the insights, now hackers have started using DV certificates to make their websites look quite trustworthy and thus, making people pay them up for the services or the products they are selling online. This is one of the growing problems of the Internet. Each day, more and more hackers attempt to get past the security of the websites as more and more people join them. With EV SSL, your verified identity is displayed at the center of the web page and the certificate is displayed directly to customers for them to trust you.
Why Do You Need an SSL Certificate for Your Website?
Keep in mind that HTTP is not secure, and if your website does use the HTTP protocol, then some of your users will be seeing an error or alert when they are trying to open your web page. Due to this, there is always a potential danger of eavesdropping attacks as the data is being sent from the browser to the server and from the server back to the browser, but all this transfer of data is done in plain text with HTTP. As a result, a hacker can easily hijack the transfer and view the sensitive data of your customers like credit card details and other account login credentials.
Advantages of Having SSL
Given below, we have chalked out five points that will show you why having an SSL certificate on your website will help you get a better traffic response, security, and other things as well.
1. Protects Your Data
The main functionality of SSL is to keep your and your website visitors’ data safe from getting into the hands of hackers. When you install the SSL certificate, each bit of the data communication between the server and the client will be encrypted. In layman’s terms, the data will be locked, and it can only be unlocked by the intended receiver of the data.
2. SSL Confirms Your Identity
When a website is new, and people are visiting it, the first thing they want to look for is the authenticity of the information that you have provided, not from you but from someone else to which they can trust. And the best way to do this is to provide the users with a screenshot of the SSL certificate provided by the CA. We all know how deceptive the Internet can be; remember the time when a guy traveled 400 miles only to discover that the girl he’s been chatting to online is just a group of two guys who were fans of a rival football team.
An SSL certificate is more like a blue tick on your Twitter account, which means it will show the user that you are a trustable business or a website, and they can provide the payment information to you.
3. Better SEO Ranking
Time and time again, you have heard that search engines prefer to show the results only for those sites that have the SSL certificate. To quickly check this, you can search anything on Google, and the results that you will find on the first page of Google will all have HTTPS connections instead of HTTP. This clearly shows that each one of them has an SSL certificate. We are sure that if you are a business, you would also like to appear on the first page of Google all of the time.
Just think about how safe you will feel about visiting a website when your browser warns you that the site is not secure? Well, that’s what your customers will see every time they visit your site if it doesn’t have an SSL certificate. So after getting your website live, the second thing you need to do is get the SSL certificate and make your website secure.