What is a Website Security Certificate and Why You Should Use One?
A website security certificate, also known as TLS/SSL certificate, is used for securing the traffic between your web servers and the users’ web browsers. That is, any data transmitting between your site and visitor browser is encrypted so that the data or any information remains safe and secure. A Multi-domain SSL certificate is one such example.
How Does a Website Security Certificate Work?
Let’s first see how encryption works to secure data transmission between a web server and a browser. The site admin generates a key pair: a public key and a private key. The data encrypted by a public key can only be decrypted by its private key and vice versa. The private key is safely stored on the webserver. And the public key is published and the web browser uses this public key to encrypt outgoing traffic to the site’s web server, and to decrypt incoming traffic.
The problem is: how can the browser verify that the public key available belongs to the website? And, how can the browser know that an attacker does not compromise the public key? An SSL certificate solves this problem exactly. It lets the browser recognize that the public key is not compromised and originally belongs to the website being visited. For this reason, an SSL certificate is alternatively known as a public key certificate or an identity certificate.
Who Issues an SSL Certificate?
Entities known as Certificate Authorities (CA) issue SSL certificates. A certificate authority (CA) is a trusted third-party. All modern browsers can recognize the certificates issued by a CA, though it depends mostly on a particular CA.
Types of SSL Certificates
One can categorize SSL certificates on the basis of two criteria: validation type and certificate functionality.
Validation Type of the Website Security Certificate
Domain Validation (DV)
For this type of validation, the certificate authority (CA) verifies the ownership of the domain. On successful verification of the domain ownership, the CA issues the SSL certificate.
Organization Validation (OV)
For organization validation, the CA verifies the company or entity requesting the certificate in addition to verifying the ownership of the domain. The company or entity information is displayed when a site visitor clicks on the padlock and checks for the information about the website security certificate, giving more trust and accountability to the site visitor.
Extended Validation (EV)
As the name suggests, the CA vets the organization requesting the certificate rigorously. Some of the aspects verified for issuing an extended validation certificate are, but not necessarily limited to
- Verifying the entity’s legal and operational existence
- Verifying the information and legal identity with official records
- Checking that the entity has the rights to use the domain name
A CA performs the entity audit for issuing an EV SSL certificate upon reissuing the certificate or at the time of renewal typically. When your site uses an EV SSL, the browser displays HTTPS, a secured padlock. It does let you establish trust with your customers and website visitors quickly and seamlessly. A site visitor can check the EV certificate details while clicking on a padlock.
Website Security Certificate Functionality
Based on the number of domain names a single SSL certificate can cover, they can be categorized into the following types.
Standard SSL Certificate
This certificate can secure one and only one domain/subdomain name or a fully qualified domain name (FQDN).
Wildcard SSL Certificate
A wildcard certificate can cover one primary domain and all of its subdomains. For example, a single wildcard SSL certificate can include all of the following domain names.
If you run an e-commerce portal or other type of web application with multiple subdomains, a single wildcard certificate can help you secure everything and also goes light on your budget.
Multi-domain Website Security Certificate
As the name suggests, a multi domain SSL certificate can secure more than one primary domain. We also know it as a Unified Communication Certificate (UCC) or a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) certificate. Typically, a multi-domain SSL certificate can be used for up to 250 domain names. But this depends mainly on the certificate provider or the certificate authority (CA). For example, some vendors might only support 100 domain names per a multi-domain SSL certificate.
A single multi-domain SSL certificate can cover all of the following domain names, for example.
If you run an enterprise or an agency with many domains then, a multi-domain certificate can help you save costs and improve configuration management time.
Why Should You Use an SSL Certificate for Your Website?
Establishing a brand reputation and building trust with your customers are two benefits of securing your website with an SSL certificate. The online landscape is becoming more competitive than ever. As you know, trust and reputation play a significant role in building a client base and attracting new leads and prospects.
If you run an e-commerce business or a digital business, securing your business site with an SSL certificate is a must — this can be the differentiator of thriving or losing customers. Customers are more aware and make sure that your website is secure to perform financial transactions, so your site must be configured with an SSL certificate properly. Also, a secure website ranks better on Google than a non-secure site, as Google states, SSL certificate is one of the many ranking factors. Better ranking on Google means better visibility for your business.
Website Security Certificate – In Conclusion
In this decade, if you run a website for your business, then configuring it with an SSL certificate is a must. While there are various types of SSL certificates available, you should take into account your needs and budget while choosing one. The cost of an SSL certificate depends on multiple factors such as the provider, certificate authority, SSL type, and other features associated with it.