There are a number of different types of SSL certificates on the market. If you go out looking for certificates, you might come across terms like Wildcard SSL, SAN SSL, Organization Validation, etc.
If you’re not very aware of SSL certificates, the terms might confuse you. Some of these terms are synonymous, some refer to different types of SSL certificates, and some are even based on different categorizations.
SSL Certificates are primarily divided base on two factors — the validation level they provide and the number of domains or subdomains they can secure.
In this article, we’ll help you answer the question “What type of SSL certificate do I need?” However, in order to do so, we have to first explain the types of SSL certificate available.
Types of SSL Certificates — Validation Level
There are three levels of validation provided by SSL certificates — Domain Validation, Organization Validation, and Extended Validation.
Domain Validated (DV) Certificates
DV certificates are extremely basic and they can only secure server-browser communication. You can obtain them within a few minutes by simply verifying that you own the domain that you’re purchasing the SSL certificate for.
DV Certificates are suitable for websites wherein users don’t have to login or provide any personal information.
Organization Validated (OV) Certificates
OV certificates are a step above domain validated certificates. They secure server-browser communication in addition to providing some organization/business validation. In order to get these certificates, you also have to prove that your website’s business is legitimate.
In terms of appearance, OV certificates look just like DV certificates. Only users who specifically click on the padlock icon to check the validation type will realize that it’s an OV certificate. As such, they are not extremely popular because they appear the same as DV certificates but are more expensive.
Organization Validated Certificates are suitable for those who have a legitimate business, whose website collects sensitive information from their users, but those who don’t want the additional expense of an EV certificate.
Extended Validation (EV) Certificates
EV certificates are the most trustworthy of all certificates. They are also extremely expensive and it takes several days or even weeks to get them issued. In order to receive them, the Certificate Authority (CA) conducts a thorough examination of the website’s business to make sure it is legitimate and safe. They also verify that the identity of the organization matches the official records and that they have the right to use the specified domain.
In terms of appearance, EV certificates provide the green address bar along with the padlock sign. Users who see it instantly know that the website can be trusted completely.
EV certificates are most suitable for e-commerce websites. If you require users to enter their payment details and address, you should get an EV certificate.
Types of SSL Certificates — Number of Domains to Protect
SSL certificates can also be differentiated based on the number of domains or subdomains they protect. The different types of SSL certificate on this bases are — Standard, Wildcard, and Multi-Domain/ SAN/ UCC.
This is the most basic package. It secures a single fully qualified domain name (FQDN) with no additional subdomains. For example, it can only secure .website.com, nothing else.
It is most suitable for website owners with a single website and no subdomains within that website.
Wildcard SSL Certificates can simultaneously secure multiple subdomains within a single FQDN. For example, if you have a domain called .website.com, it can also secure login.website.com and payment.website.com.
In order to secure the various subdomains, you have to add an asterisk (*) before the primary domain name. For example, you have to enter *.website.com when purchasing the certificate.
It is most suitable for website owners with a single primary domain but various subsets and subdomains within that.
Multi Domain Certificates are also known as Subject Alternative Name Certificates and Unified Communication Certificate.
They can simultaneously secure multiple up to 100 FQDNs along with all their subdomains. For example, it can secure .website.com, .website.org, .browser.com, .browser.org, and all of their subdomains.
These are most suitable for large businesses and organizations with several websites, all with their own set of subdomains.
What Type of SSL Certificate do I Need?
Generally speaking, SSL certificates are made of a combination of a specific Validation Type with the Number of Domains/Subdomains to protect.
The type of SSL certificate you need depends completely on your specific needs. If you need to secure multiple subdomains and require users to provide sensitive information, you can get an EV Wildcard Certificate or OV Wildcard Certificate. If you have a single website and don’t need users to provide any sensitive information, you can get a DV Standard Certificate.
Go through the various types of SSL certificate, assess your needs, and then purchase a certificate accordingly.