SSL is the buzz term in the world of security particularly with the ever-rising incidences of cyber-attacks these days.
Frankly, the web is no longer safe and cybersecurity professionals expect attacks to evolve even further in the coming years.
Now, how does SSL come in? If you don’t know why you need SSL installed on your website or perhaps you don’t even know what the heck SSL is, then this article is for you.
We will go through everything you need to know about SSL certificates, including the essence of using them on your site.
What’s an SSL Certificate?
For starters, an SSL certificate stands for Secure Socket Layer and it is basically a security protocol that protects communication between web browser and server. When a user sends requests to your server from the browser, the communication is protected from eavesdroppers who might want to intercept it for malicious reasons.
In other words, SSL can help you secure contentious data such as credit cards transactions, data transfers, login details, browsing data etc.
You might have noticed that some sites’ URLs start with “https” with a padlock sign while others start with “HTTP:”.
The difference is simple! HTTPS means that the site has been secured using SSL and vice versa.
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What Does SSL Do For a Website?
Are SSL certificates necessary? It is a common question among website owners many of which shrug off the benefits of the certificates.
It turns out the SSL does indeed offer web owners other advantages other than security. Here are a few benefits of SSL:
SSL Helps SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is essentially an organic way to rank higher in search engines like Google, Bing etc.
SEO is actually improved through a plethora of approaches with one of them coming in the form of implementing websites security.
Google is currently shifting towards supports sites that are SSL certificates, a feat that started way back in 2014 when they inculcated SSL as a ranking signal.
In fact, HTTPS is used a tie-breaker in the case two sites have the same ranking metrics in Google via search engine land
Improving conversion Rates via Trust
With the state of web security, it is natural that customers have responded by being more cautious with the websites they transact in.
They want to do business with only the sites where they are guaranteed security.
By using SSL, customers can be able to get visual cues that give them a peace of mind when using your site thus translating into better conversion rates.
Tech-savvy consumers will understand that the padlock that sits next to the HTTPS URL means better security.
For those that aren’t exactly hawk-eyed, there are trust badges that come when you purchase an SSL certificate for your site.
In other words, you will be able to flaunt the certificate as a visual indicator that your site is very safe to use.
The other essential benefit of using SSL comes in the shape of complying industry security standards. A great example of this is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). It is an organization founded in 2006 by major payment card brands like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover etc. Their goal is to secure and manage online transactions through regulations for online merchants handling credit cards-installing an SSL certificate is one of the standards.
In fact, online merchants are supposed to fulfill a set of requirements set by the PCI SSC for SSL certificate installation including having strong private keys, strong cipher suites, using trusted SSL, securing card details etc.
Types of SSL Certificates
Now that you know a thing or two about the basics of SSL certificates, let’s get a little bit deeper and look at the types of SSL certificates you can use for your site.
Well, there are two broad types of SSL certificates grouped on the basis of validation level and the number of domains the SSL can secure.
Based on validation, the types of SSL certificates are:
Domain Validation Certificates :
It is the lowest level of validation whereby you simply need to show control over a domain to get the certificate from the Central Authority (CA). The indication is a secure HTTPS URL on the browser.
Organization Validation Certificates :
In this type of SSL certificates, the validation is taken a notch higher in that the CA cross-checks the ownership of the domain along with other basic info about the organization requesting for the certificate e.g name, city, and country. The company info will be displayed in the certificates name.
EV Certificates :
The Extended Validation certificates otherwise known as EV SSL takes a stricter path before an organization is issued with the SSL.
The CA will verify the ownership, organization information, physical location, and legal aspects regarding an organization including if they are aware of the request made to them for the certificate.
As an indication, a green address bar is displayed along with the company’s name.
Based on the number of domains they can secure, Main types of SSL are:
Single Domain SSL certificate
As the name suggests, this SSL protect a single subdomain or hostname. This is to say that if the certificate is bought for www.xyz.com but then, it won’t work for a subdomain ab.xyz.com for example
Wildcard SSL certificate
Wildcard SSL Certificate secures an unlimited number of subdomains with the main domain. If you buy wildcard certificate for www.xyz.com, you will secure a subdomain like careers.xyz.com, support.xyz.com etc.
Multi-Domain SSL certificate
A multi-domain SSL certificate can protect up to 100 domains with that one certificate issued by a CA. They are often tailored for Microsoft Exchange and Office Communications settings.
Pro Tip: why WordPress is best for SEO
That’s it. We hope that you now understand what SSL is all about and why you need SSL on your website. You can now put it into practice.
Install an SSL certificate and protect your website from things like phishing, Man In The Middle Attack and many more threats!