Do you want to choose a suitable SSL certificate for your website? However, the diversity of SSL certificates makes it difficult for you to determine which one will be a perfect solution for your site. In this blog, we will help you distinguish 5 types of SSL certificates so that you can choose the right type of free SSL certificate based on your website’s needs and the level of security required. Now, let’s check them out.
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer certificate) is a digital certificate that enables secure communication between a web server and a web browser. It serves as a cryptographic key that encrypts data transmitted over the internet, ensuring that the information remains secure and protected from unauthorized access.
Once a website gets an SSL certificate, it allows for the secure transfer of sensitive data, such as login credentials, credit card information, or personal details, between the user’s browser and the website’s server. The SSL certificate establishes a secure connection by encrypting the data, making it hard for anyone to intercept or tamper with the information during transmission.
In addition to encrypting data, SSL certificates also offer visual indicators to users, such as a padlock icon in the browser’s address bar or displaying the website URL with “https://” instead of “http://”. These visual cues indicate that the website has an active SSL certificate and that the connection is secure.
Why should you use SSL certificates for your websites?
Using SSL certificates brings numerous benefits to web security and performance. First of all, SSL certificates encrypt the data that is transmitted between a user’s browser and the website’s server. Hence, this encryption ensures your sensitive information such as passwords, login credentials, credit card details, and business transactions will be protected from unauthorized access. Additionally, it helps prevent interception and eavesdropping by malicious individuals.
Further, when your website uses SSL certificates, this will help build a strong trust between the website and its visitors. Because the presence of an SSL certificate is indicated to users through visual cues like a padlock icon or a green address bar, instilling confidence in the security of the website.
Plenty of regulatory standards and legal frameworks require the use of SSL certificates to protect user data. Hence, if you utilize SSL certificates, you can ensure compliance with these requirements and sidestep possible legal and regulatory consequences.
Last but not least, if you want to improve your website’s search engine ranking, then using SSL certificates is a wise idea. Since many search engines like Google always prioritize websites that utilize SSL certificates in their search results. In contrast, some browsers will show warnings or label websites as “not secure” in order to discourage visitors from accessing your site, if your website doesn’t use SSL certificates.
The differences between 5 types of SSL Certificates
There are generally 5 main types of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates, which are used to secure the communication between a website and its visitors. These types are based on the level of validation and the number of domains/subdomains they can secure. Now, let’s dive into each SSL certificate to help you easily distinguish between them.
Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificates
DV SSL certificates are the most fundamental type of SSL certificates. Since they only require the domain ownership to be validated by the certificate authority (CA). They are typically issued quickly and provide basic encryption and validation for a single domain. DV is regarded as the easiest solution to keep your website, login page, webmail and more safe. You can quickly get DV SSL in a few minutes without sending any documentation for verification.
DV SSL certificates are suitable for websites that do not collect sensitive information from users and do not require a high level of trust. They are commonly used by small businesses, blogs, and personal websites.
Organization Validated (OV) SSL Certificates
OV SSL certificate provides a higher level of security compared to the DV SSL certificate, so it also requires a higher level of validation. In addition to validating domain ownership, they require the certificate authority (CA) to validate the organization that owns the domain before issuing the certificate. This validation process involves verifying the organization’s identity, such as its legal existence, physical address, and phone number.
Once the organization’s identity is confirmed, the CA will issue an OV SSL certificate, which will show the organization’s name in the certificate details. This offers an additional layer of confidence to visitors, as they are able to observe that the organization has been authenticated by a reliable third party.
Generally, OV SSL certificates offer a balance between security and cost-effectiveness, so it becomes a perfect choice for e-commerce websites, financial institutions, government organizations, and medium to large-size businesses that want to establish trust and secure their online communication.
Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates
EV SSL certificates ensure the utmost validation and trust. These certificates require a rigorous verification process by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA). When an EV SSL certificate is installed on a website, this will showcase the organization’s name in the browser’s address bar and often highlight it in green to indicate to users that the website is secure and has undergone extensive verification.
EV SSL certificates provide encryption for the data that is sent between a website and its users, guaranteeing that important information like passwords and credit card details cannot be intercepted by malicious individuals. Hence, a cheap EV SSL certificate is the ultimate solution for websites that need to protect important and sensitive user data such as E-commerce websites, banking and financial institutions, government websites or large corporations.
Wildcard SSL Certificates
Wildcard SSL certificates are a specialized type of SSL certificate that allows you to secure a domain and its unlimited number of subdomains with one certificate. As a result, there is no requirement to buy and handle separate SSL certificates for every subdomain. Additionally, a Wildcard SSL certificate is different from other ones because it uses a wildcard character (*) in the domain name field to represent any subdomain.
For example, if you have a Wildcard SSL certificate issued for “*.example.com,” it can secure “www.example.com,” “site.example.com,” “store.example.com,” “blog.example.com,” and any other subdomain under “example.com” without requiring separate certificates for each subdomain.
Therefore, cheap Wildcard SSL certificates are a cost-effective solution for organizations or websites that have multiple subdomains and want to secure them all under a single certificate such as large websites, e-commerce platforms, content management systems, and cloud service providers.
Subject Alternative Name (SAN) SSL Certificates
SAN SSL certificates are known as Multi-Domain certificates. They are completely different from Wildcard SSL certificates because they allow you to secure multiple domains and subdomains within a single certificate. Thanks to that, you can reduce the need to manage and maintain multiple certificates.
Due to their flexibility, they are particularly beneficial for websites that have multiple domains or multiple variations of a single domain.
To sum up, by using SSL certificates, you offer assurance to customers that their information is being safeguarded and that you prioritize its security. Moreover, by employing secure keys to encrypt their data, they can feel confident that their sensitive information cannot be easily stolen by hackers. In other words, SSL certificates serve as evidence to users, which builds customers’ confidence in your business and assures them that your website is indeed the legitimate company you claim to be.
However, each type of SSL certificate offers different levels of validation and coverage, how to choose the best right SSL certificate for your website? In order to choose the suitable SSL certificate for your website, you need to consider the following factors:
- Level of trust and security: Determine the level of trustworthiness and security required for your website.
- Validation process: Consider the time and effort required for the certificate validation process.
- Budget: Set a budget for purchasing and maintaining the SSL certificate.
- Compatibility: Ensure the certificate is compatible with your web server and devices used by your target audience.
- Support and warranty: Check the customer support provided by the certificate authority and the warranty coverage.
Additionally, it is vital to choose the right type of certificate to match your domain structure and configuration. For instance, if you have multiple subdomains, then you need to choose a Wildcard or SAN SSL certificate. Currently, there is a wide range of providers that offer various types of SSL certificates at different prices. If you have a limited budget, then you can choose a low-cost certificate from reliable providers like cheap Comodo SSL. In contrast, if you have a huge budget, you can opt for a premium certificate from trusted authorities such as GeoTrust, Thawte, GlobalSign, etc.
Hopefully, our blog helped you have a deep understanding of the differences between the 5 types of SSL certificates. If you have any queries, please leave a comment below.
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