Why SSL Certificates are Essential for any Website

Online security is no joke.

Just as you would safeguard your home or protect your business, online security should be approached the same way.

But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt if you hadn’t heard already. Here’s a warm welcome to a particular advancement in online security: SSL certificates.

Thanks to SSL certificates, you can fret no more.

What are SSL certificates?

An acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, SSL certificates are merely a means for secure online communications. It’s located on your web server and is shown as a small ounce of code.

If you want to get more technical, an SSL certificate is a small data file, installed on a web server, allowing for a secure connection and encrypted communication between a web browser and web server. Moreover, the encryption process entails jumbled, undecipherable data translated into a readable format with proper decryption keys.

Millions of online businesses and individual users utilize SSL certificates for various reasons, ranging from encrypted credit card transactions to transferring data, processing logins, and hosting secure social media websites.

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By establishing a person or online business’s credentials, it’s almost like obtaining a digital passport. An SSL certificate contains the certificate holder’s name and a copy of their public key, the certificate’s serial number and expiration date, and the digital signature of the certificate-issuing authority.

To summarize, SSL certificates create a safe connection between online businesses and the customers themselves. They ensure that sensitive data transmitted from one user’s computer safely lands in the hands of the targeted website.

Different types of SSL certificates

There are three different types of SSL certificates: Extended Validation (EV SSL), Organization Validated (OV SSL), and Domain Validated (DV SSL).

All three different types offer the same encryption levels, meaning your private data is secure no matter what. It’s simply that each encryption level functions in a different way through varying processes of vetting and verifying the correct information needed to obtain the certificate. Additionally, each encryption level appears a different way in your browser’s web address bar.

To start, EV SSL certificates assure the certificate holder’s right in using a particular domain name while thoroughly vetting the associated organization. These certificates show as a green bar or font.

This type of certificate is mostly for users who wish to uphold the highest levels of digital authenticity possible—that’s why governmental entities are particularly keen on using this type of certificate. Also, there are yearly audits that are intended to ensure the issuance process’s integrity.

Onto the next: OV SSL certificates. These assure the certificate holder’s right in using a particular domain name just like EV SSL certificates do. However, they only conduct some vetting of the associated organization. This certificate shows as a Secure Site Seal, allowing users to click on it to display additional vetted company information.

And last but not least: DV SSL. Just as both EV and OV SSL certificates assure the certificate holder’s right in using a particular domain name, so does DV. Yet they are different in the fact that no identifying company information is vetted or shown within the Secure Site Seal.

How do SSL certificates work?

SSL certificates function on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), also sometimes called public-key cryptography. Public key cryptography is a process using two definite cryptographic keys: a private key and public key.

What’s the difference, you may ask? The private key is for the decryption process while the public key is for the encryption process.

Obviously, the public key is, well, public, meaning it’s shared with every user receiving the certificate while visiting a website. Unbeknownst to your perceived knowledge, you’re actually using a public key right now. They’re stored in the digital certificate, and you can even see a website’s public key when viewing your browser’s SSL certificate details.

The private key is, you guessed it, more private. For instance, if a customer purchases a product of your website, your website is the only entity holding the customer’s private key. And since you’re the certificate holder, you’re the only one able to unlock it. If a hacker attempts to obtain and unlock the key, they’ll simply receive an unbreakable cryptographic code.

There’s no room for monkey business in public-key cryptography!

Do you really need SSL certificates for your website?

In short: yes.

According to Verisign, “any individual or organization that uses their website to require, receive, process, collect, store, or display confidential or sensitive information” should obtain an SSL certificate.

Verisign concludes SSL certificates are inherently essential for information including “logins and passwords, financial information [such as] credit card numbers, bank accounts, personal data [such as] names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, proprietary information, legal documents and contracts, client lists, [and] medical records.”

With SSL certificates, your customers’ personal information on your website is protected and secured. This not only gives them peace of mind but also trust and confidence in knowing their private information won’t get into the wrong hands.

Not only that, SSL certificates work for you as well, saving money and ensuring no customer data will be compromised. When customer data is compromised, it’s not only a huge headache for you but an even bigger problem legally and financially.

Who has time to deal with that anyway?

Where can you get SSL certificates?

This is undeniably the most important step in the process—where your SSL certificate comes from. 101domain offers a list of verified organizations, issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs), that are trusted in verifying the identity and legitimacy of any entity or person requesting a said certificate.

And in the end …

SSL certificates are no joke.

To recap, they protect a user’s private information against hackers, giving a customer trust and confidence in your online business, full-well knowing your website is safe and secure.

If you truly value online security as well as establishing your online business’s integrity and reliability, what are you waiting for?