As online payments become more and more common, ensuring that your ecommerce site is as secure as possible has never been more critical. The number of high-profile hacking incidents and online security issues in the last 12 months should only serve to indicate how vital it is today to ensure that your website has the best security it needs with the right SSL certificates. This article will explain what an SSL certificate is, its types, functions, how to obtain it, and how to install it.
What Is The SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate is a public digital document, which verifies that the legitimate and appropriate company owns the website being accessed.
They ensure that visitors get to the right site they want to visit by demonstrating relevant ownership. As an e-commerce business, this helps prevent attackers from impersonating your business and your website.
An SSL certificate establishes a secure connection between their web browser and your site’s server for clients. This protects important information like passwords and credit card details by adding a layer of encryption when data is sent.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a security method that enables data encryption when transferred through a server. SSL certificates help protect the transfer of confidential information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and user names.
Let’s see how SSL works.
SSL / TLS provides data encryption, integrity, and data authentication.
This means that when you use SSL / TLS, you can be sure that:
- No one has read your message
- No one has changed your message
- You are communicating with the intended person (server)
When sending a message between two people, you have two problems that you must solve:
- How do you know that no one has read the message?
- How do you know that no one has changed the message?
The solutions to these problems are:
- Encrypt it: This makes the content unreadable, making it gibberish to anyone viewing the message.
- Sign it: this allows the recipient to be sure that you sent the message and that the message has not been modified.
Both processes require the use of keys.
- These keys are simply numbers (128 bits are common) that are then combined with the message using a particular method, commonly known as an algorithm, for example, RSA, to encrypt or sign the message.
- Almost all encryption methods in use today use public and private keys.
- With public and private keys, two keys are used that are mathematically related but different.
- This means that a message encrypted with a public key cannot be decrypted with the same public key.
- To decrypt the message, you need the private key.
- SSL / TLS uses a public and private key system for data encryption and data integrity.
- Public keys can be available to anyone, hence the term public.
- So there is a question of trust, specifically: How do you know that a particular public key belongs to the person/entity it claims to be?
- For example, you receive a key that says it belongs to your bank.
- How do you know it belongs to your bank?
- The answer is to use a digital certificate.
- A certificate serves the same purpose as a passport in everyday life.
- A passport establishes a link between a photo and a person, and that link has been verified by a trusted authority (passport office).
- A digital certificate provides a link between a public key and an entity (company, domain name, etc.) that has been verified (signed) by a trusted third party (a certificate authority).
- Also Read: How To Identify And Prevent Cyberbullying
What Types of SSL Certificates Are There?
There are three common types of SSL certificates. Choosing the right one will be based on the level of security your website needs.
With Domain Validation (DV)
A domain-validated SSL certificate, also known as a low-security certificate, is the standard type of certificate issued. Automated validation ensures that the domain name is registered and that an administrator approves the request. For validation to complete, the webmaster must confirm via email or configure a DNS record for the site.
The CA verifies the applicant’s right to use a specific domain name. No company identity information is scanned, and no information other than encryption information is displayed within the Secure Site Seal. While you can be sure that your information is encrypted, you cannot know who the recipient of that information is.
DV SSL certificates are fully compliant and share the same browser awareness as OV SSL but have the advantage that they are issued almost immediately without the need to present company documentation. This makes DV SSL ideal for businesses that need low-cost SSL quickly and without the effort of sending business documents.
With Domain and Organization Validation (OV)
An organization-validated certificate, or a high-security certificate, requires natural agents to validate domain ownership and organization information such as name, city, state, and country. Similar to a low-security certificate, it requires additional documentation to verify the identity of the company.
The CA verifies the applicant’s right to use a specific domain name rather than conducting an organization investigation. Additional vetted company information is shown to customers when they click the Safe Site Seal, providing greater visibility into who is behind the site and associated trust. The name of the organization also appears on the certificate below the ON field.
With Extended Domain and Organization Validation (EV)
An EV certificate, or extended validation certificate, is a new type of certificate that requires the most rigorous validation process. This certificate verifies that the company is a legal entity and requires that business information be provided as proof of domain ownership. Standard SSL certificates do not represent that a legitimate and verified company is operating the website.
With an EV SSL, the Certificate Authority (CA) verifies the applicant’s right to use a specific domain name and conducts a thorough investigation of the organization. The process of issuing SSL Certificates with EV is strictly defined in the EV Guidelines. All the steps required for a CA before issuing a certificate are specified here, including:
- Verify the legal, physical and operational existence of the entity
- Check that the identity of the entity matches the official records
- Verify that the entity has the exclusive right to use the domain specified in the SSL Certificate with EV
- Ensure that the entity has duly authorized the issuance of the SSL Certificate with EV
Since its inception, the latest and possibly the most significant advancement in SSL technology follows standardized extended validation guidelines. New high-security browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 7+, Opera 9.5+, Firefox 3+, Google Chrome, Apple Safari 3.2+, and iPhone Safari 3.0+ identify extended SSL certificates and activate security enhancements the browser interface. For customers who wish to assert the highest levels of authenticity, this is the ideal solution.
EV SSL Certificates are available to all types of businesses, including government entities. The second set of guidelines, the EV Audit Guidelines, specify the criteria under which a CA must be successfully audited before issuing EV SSL Certificates. The audits are repeated annually to ensure the integrity of the issuance process.
What Advantages Do They Offer?
These are the five key benefits of using an SSL certificate.
Protect Your Data
The primary function of an SSL certificate is to protect the server-client communication. By installing SSL, all information is encrypted. In simple terms, the data is locked and can only be unlocked by the intended recipient (browser or server), as no one else can have the key to open it.
By dealing with sensitive data like IDs, passwords, credit card numbers, etc., SSL helps protect you against the opposing army of hackers and skimmers. As SSL converts data into an indecipherable format, the skills of hackers prove to be a blunt sword against the unsurpassed encryption technology of SSL certificates.
Affirm Your Identity
The second main task of an SSL certificate is to provide authentication to a website. Identity verification is one of the essential aspects when it comes to web security. There is no doubt that the Internet is increasingly misleading. There have been cases where people have lost thousands of dollars on fake websites. This is where the SSL certificate comes in.
When you want to install an SSL certificate, you must go through a validation process established by an independent third party called the Certificate Authority (CA). Depending on the type of certificate, the CA verifies your identity and that of your organization. Once you have proven your identity, your website gets trust indicators that vouch for its integrity. When users see them, they know who they are talking to.
Better Ranking in Search Engines
In 2014, Google made changes to its algorithm to give HTTPS-enabled websites an advantage. This has been evident in various studies by SEO experts around the world. There is a strong correlation between HTTPS and higher search engine rankings.
Who doesn’t want to be on the first page of Google, right?
Helps Meet PCI / DSS Requirements
If you accept payments online, you should know a thing or two about PCI / DSS requirements. To receive payments online, your website must be PCI compliant. Having an SSL certificate installed is one of the top 12 requirements set by the payment card industry (PCI).
So SSL is essential whether you want it or not.
Improve Customer Confidence
We would have changed the name from SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to TTL (Trust Transmitting Layer) if it were up to us. In addition to encryption and authentication, SSL certificates are vital from a customer trust point of view. easy-to-identify signs inform users that the data they submit will be protected.
And if you’ve installed an OV or EV SSL, they can see your organization details. Once they know that you are a legitimate entity, they are much more likely to do business with you or even revisit your site.
Who Should Have An SSL Certificate?
If you’re not sure if your site has SSL, you can easily find out by checking the site’s URL. If it starts with HTTP, it is not secure, and if it starts with HTTPS, your website has an SSL certificate. Some Internet browsers have started to embarrass sites without SSL publicly. Different browsers have imposed different indicators of whether a site is secure. For example, Google Chrome will indicate that the site is “not secure” in the browser bar, while Firefox will label it as “not secure.”
You may want to consider adding an SSL certificate to your website if any of its pages are password protected. This mainly includes WordPress or other database-based sites with a login page for the administrator. Anyone with access to this Login can modify your pages or delete your entire site.
Today an e-commerce world has many online data breaches. They are increasing on the Internet, so every website owner must have an SSL certificate to encrypt user information and keep it safe on the Internet.
In summary, these are the reasons why your website needs SSL:
- If your site has a login, you need SSL to protect usernames and passwords.
- If you use forms that request confidential customer information, you need SSL to prevent hackers from stealing your customers’ data.
- If it is an e-commerce site, you may need an SSL certificate.
How And Where Are They Obtained?
You can get a free SSL certificate. You obtain a digital certificate from a recognized certificate authority (CA). Just like you get a passport at a passport office.
The procedure is very similar.
You must fill in the corresponding forms, add your public keys (they are only numbers) and send them to the certification authority.
The certifying authority performs some checks (it depends on the authority) and returns you the keys included in a certificate.
The issuing certificate authority signs the certificate, and this is the one that guarantees the keys.
When someone wants your public keys, you send them the certificate, they verify the signature on the certificate, and if they verify, they can trust your keys.
How To Install An SSL Certificate On My Domain?
The following instructions will guide you through the process of installing SSL in Web Host Manager (WHM). If you have more than one server or device, you will need to install the certificate on each server or device you need to protect.
- Login to WHM, usually accessible at https://domain.com:2087
- Enter your username/password and click Login.
- Make sure you are on the WHM home page.
- Click the SSL / TLS button
- On the SSL / TLS Manager page, click Install an SSL certificate on a domain.
- In the Domain field, enter the domain name that you want to protect with your SSL Certificate.
- Copy and paste your certificate files into the corresponding text boxes
- Once you have entered the certificate files in the correct boxes, click Install.
- Also Read: Customer Experience Relies on Biometrics To Ensure Security
How Much They Cost?
Technology becomes more and more affordable over time, and that phenomenon has also applied to SSL certificates. Today they are much cheaper than a few years ago.
The price of SSL certificates single domain and DV certificates start from $ 13 a year in ClickSSL. These are cheap SSL certificates.
Then there are the Wildcard SSL Certificates that start at $ 97.50 per year and the Multi-Domain / SAN Certificates from $ 41.25 per year.
The cost of SSL OV certificates starts from $ 54 per year, while SSL certificates with EV start from $ 127.5 per year. These certificates can be safely considered the best SSL certificates on the market.
How Does The Visitor Know That The Website Has An SSL Certificate?
Various visual indicators confirm the presence of an SSL certificate on a website.
- Padlock next to URL: The most recognizable icon, located to the left of the website URL, is the first indicator of a secure connection. Clicking on it will open additional information about the type of SSL and the connection. You can see which certificate authority issued the SSL and for how long it is valid.
- HTTPS, not HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) tells visitors that all communication between their browser and the website is encrypted.
- Static or dynamic site seal: Each SSL certificate issued by a reputable certificate authority comes with a static or dynamic seal that can be placed anywhere on the website. Whether it is located in the footer of the site or the sidebar, the site seal provides additional confirmation that the website is secure.
- No secure warning: If a website does not have an SSL certificate, the browser will mark it as not secure and display an SSL connection warning.
The Validity Period of SSL Certificates
The maximum validity period for TLS / SSL certificates is currently 825 days (2 years, three months and five days). The shelf life was shortened from 10 years to 5 years, and finally two years, due to safety concerns associated with long shelf life.
An organization can undergo many changes over 5 or 10 years: mergers and acquisitions, changes in management or the departure of employees. In such a scenario, domain names are subject to change, as is the ownership of certificates. If a valid certificate for five years was implemented for the old domain name, it must be revoked, and a new CSR generated for the new domain.
Organizations can sometimes forget to revoke old certificates. The website may now have a different domain, but the old domain would still be valid because its certificate is still active. Hackers could use those domains to create websites that appear to belong to the organization. They can cause unsuspecting people to visit those websites and hand over their data, which would go directly to the hackers’ systems.