It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call the Internet our second home! We’ve had our shopping malls, social life, and even banks shifted to the other side of a monitor. This makes securing our virtual haven a must for our own good.
An SSL certificate is a significant protocol, which was developed by Netscape. This digital certificate secures all transactions & communications that take place between web browsers and web servers. It provides encryption for all of our personal and financial data stored on the Internet, like credit card details, login credentials etc. So, let’s get up, close and personal with these essential digital certificates.
Different Types of SSL Certificates
The increased awareness of web security has enlarged the market of SSL certificates. What started out with just one basic digital certificate has now turned into a potpourri comprising of a variety of SSL certificates for almost all the Internet platforms. Have a look.
SSL Cert Types based on Validation Level
Extended Validation SSL Certificates
EV certificates are the most advanced and secure SSL certificates. They provide the highest level of validation as they are issued by the Certificate Authority under the stringent EV guidelines, which are chalked out by CA/Browser Forum. As shown in the image below, it triggers the display of green address bar along with the owner’s company name on it.
The ‘Green Address Bar’ provides instant assurance for all the customers about the authenticity of the business. This certificate is a must-have for all the eCommerce & Social websites looking to protect their customers’ information and increase their conversions.
Organization Validated SSL Certificate:
Alternately also known as High Assurance Certificate, an OV certificate offers 256-bit encryption strength. This certificate is ideal for online businesses that intend to gain trust from their customers and the ones that handle their sensitive information. An OV SSL certificate is issued only after the CAs completely verifies the applicant’s company documents, physical and web address.
Domain Validated SSL Certificate:
A DV SSL certificate is ideal for business owners who are not much concerned about their identity assurance and are looking for instant SSL encryption without much paperwork involved in the validation procedure. These are low-cost certificates that are issued immediately after CAs verify the name and contact details of the applicants with the WHOIS information.
Note: SSL Certificate allows a user to secure both www and non-www domains.
Special SSL Certificate Types
Also known as S/MIME certificate, this certificate is commonly used to sign an email for encrypting it. An ‘Email certificate’ ensures that the signed email is read only by the intended recipient. This digital signature prevents any type of tampering or modification of the email contents till it reaches the correct recipient.
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Wildcard SSL Certificate:
A single Wildcard SSL is capable of securing an unlimited number of first-level sub-domains on a single domain name. When you get a Wildcard issued with *.domainname.com as the common name, you automatically secure www.domainname.com, mail.domainname.com, login.domainname.com. In a nutshell, the certificate works on all the sub-domains that replace the Wildcard character (*).
Root Signing Certificate:
A Root Signing certificate is used especially to sign other certificates, which are linked to a trusted root certificate. This action almost makes the user his own Certificate Authority (CA) and issue certificates that are trusted by all the major browsers.
Code Signing Certificates:
A Code-Signing certificate allows the users to sign a script/software to confirm the authenticity of the author of the code. Often called as the Digital Shrink-wrap, a Code-Signing certificate also assures that the code has not been tampered or modified since it was signed.
The mode of action of a Code Signing certificate is depicted in the image above.
Unified Communications (UC) Certificate:
As the name suggests, a Unified Communications (UC) certificate secures Unified Communications’ products like Live Communications Server, Exchange Server 2007 or other Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 products. It is considered as a cost-effective certificate because users can secure multiple domain names or server names with just one UC certificate. Its ability to use the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) field is the unique feature of this certificate.
Advantages of Having an SSL Certificate
Lately, Internet Security has almost become synonymous with an ‘SSL Certificate’. So, what is it that an SSL certificate does to earn this status? This, of course, is a very crucial question, which needs to be answered for spreading awareness about the basic aim of an SSL certificate. Here are few of the most fundamental advantages that can be availed by the SSL users:
‘Encryption’ happens to be the most fundamental purpose of an SSL certificate. It secures all the sensitive information being stored or sent across on the Internet and makes sure it is delivered only to the intended recipient without being breached.
Effective encryption is very important as the information submitted on the Internet tends to pass via several systems before reaching the destination server. To keep this information from being stolen or tampered, an SSL certificate inserts random characters in it to make it incomprehensible for everyone, except the apt recipient, having the designated encryption key.
Apart from the basic encryption, an SSL certificate also provides authenticity to the customers visiting a website. It assures the visitors that the information on the website is being sent to an appropriate server without being intercepted en route.
For any online business to survive on the Internet, it requires encryption strength of at least 256-bit in order to meet the PCI standards, without being in compliance a website shall not accept any kind of online card payments. The PCI standards verify that the SSL certificate comes from a trusted source and is capable of providing the private connection on the websites, especially on the checkout pages.
Gain Customers’ Trust:
In this era of e-banking and online shopping, a majority of customers are smart enough to tell apart a safe website from a non-encrypted, unsafe website by looking for the SSL visual cues like an https address, closed padlock, green URL/Address Bar etc.
Therefore, it’s quite apparent, that an SSL encryption helps the customers view the website as professional and a genuine platform that they can trust with their personal information. The immediate aftermath of which is an increase in the conversion rate.
Boost Search Engine Ranking:
An SSL certificate has made it to the list of factors that will improve Search Engine rankings. As per the recent policy a change by Google (HTTPS Everywhere), the company has decided to use HTTPS, the SSL induced secure version of HTTP, as a ranking signal. These changes were applied by the search engine giant, with an intention to promote the concept of web security and to encourage site administrators to improve their websites’ security standards.
Sell & Purchase with Confidence:
Being an online consumer, intending to buy a particular product, it would be a disaster to have your financial and identity credentials stolen on the Internet. For online merchants, this nightmare transforms into being looked down by all the visitors as an unsafe platform that can compromise their sensitive information. However, if the website in question is secured by an SSL certificate, both parties can carry out the business deals without any fear or any sort of loss.
An SSL certificate, as we can see, is undeniably the backbone of cybersecurity, which compels us to always strengthen it to make the Internet a safer place for users to venture.
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