Types Of SSL Certificates Explained

Cyber Security is one of the biggest challenges to this overgrowing internet world. More people use the internet these days, and this increases the risk of getting victimized by cybercrimes.

SSL helps to mitigate cyber threats to some extent. So don’t you feel it’s worth being aware of What is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), how SSL works and having a clear understanding of different types of SSL Certificates? If yes, let’s get into this article.

No one loves websites that are not secure. Google too. As per a recent circular, Google no longer encourages websites that do not have an SSL certificate.

Earlier it was damn expensive to buy an SSL certificate. But now it has become very cheap with so many companies offering SSL certificates. Few CDN ( Content Delivery Networks) offer free SSL out of the box. So there is no reason for any website not to have an SSL certificate.

SSL is a common term among website owners and developers. Though we know that we need SSL for our websites, many of us don’t have a clear understanding of what an SSL certificate is and the different types of SSL Certificates available in the market. In this article, we will try to know more about this.

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remain private

Let’s understand SSL with some practical examples.

For example, if we visit any website and try to fill out any form to contact the webmaster, we submit some pieces of information.

Those pieces of information can be our name, phone number, or could be our banking details. If the visited website does not have an SSL, the data we send using the contact form or any other mode is compromised.

Types Of SSL Certificates

A hacker can steal data in many ways, but the most common type is inserting code in the web server without even the website owner’s knowledge.

Those codes spy on users when they submit any information and send the data back to the hacker. All these things happen within a fraction of a second, and it’s almost impossible to detect that someone is stealing data.

Now let’s take the scenario if we are visiting a website that has an SSL certificate. As I said before, an SSL creates an encrypted connection between the browser and the web server, so when we submit any information, there are very few chances that a hacker can steal that information.

It is next to impossible to break the encryption. Well, SSL cannot completely protect data, but it reduces the chances of getting the data compromised. The level of securities varies based on the encryption level we choose.

What An SSL Can Do?

  • Secure financial transactions
  • Encrypts data transfers over the internet.
  • Prevent website crash
  • Build trust among users

How To Know If A Website Has An SSL Certificate?

Well, there are numerous ways we can verify if a website has SSL or not. A few are listed below.

URL starts with HTTPS

Websites having an SSL certificate have an URL starting with HTTPS://. For example, this website has an SSL certificate and it has the URL https://www.rianstech.com

A little padlock icon in the URL bar

A green padlock icon in the URL bar indicates that the website has an SSL certificate. Well, that icon has a different meaning based on the type of icon you see in the URL bar.

Types Of SSL Certificate

Using online tools

Several online tools can validate if a website has an SSL or not. Those tools even give insights into the type of SSL, certifying authority, and validity. Here are some of the online tools available in the market.

How To Check SSL Certificates

Even though a website has HTTPS:// before the URL and has a Padlock icon, you can not be sure that the SSL certificate is valid. To check if a website has a valid SSL certificate, we can follow the below steps.

For Chrome Browser, Click on the padlock icon and see if it shows ” Connection is secure” or not.

Types Of SSL Certificate

Key abbreviations used in an SSL Certificate

  • SSL – Secure Sockets Layer
  • DV– Domain Validation
  • OV– Organization Validation
  • EV– Extended Validation
  • CSR– Certificate Signing Request
  • CA– Certificate Authority

Types of SSL certificates

Types of SSL can be categorized broadly based on the following criteria.

  • Encryption /Validation Level
  • Number of domain / Sub Domain

Encryption / Validation level SSL certificate is further classified into three categories.

  • Domain Validation
  • Organization Validation
  • Extended Validation

SSL types based on a number of domains are classified into the following categories.

  • Single Domain
  • Multi-Domain
  • Wildcard Domain

Domain Validation

Domain Validation offers the lowest level of encryption. Usually, the CA verifies the domain ownership and issues a certificate.

Please make a note that the domain Validation certificate only secures the particular domain, not any subdomain. For example, if you buy a DV certificate for riansclub.com, then the same certificate can not be used to protect mail.riansclub.com.

  • Encryption level-Low
  • Mode of verification-By adding a DNS entry or uploading a file to root supplied by certifying authority.
  • Browser Indication-A small green lock icon is shown next to the URL.
  • Turn-Around time-Usually a Day.

Organizational Validation

In the case of organizational validation, the certifying authority verifies the organization’s existence along with the domain validation.

  • Encryption level-Medium
  • Mode of verification-The CA first verifies the domain ownership and then verifies the legal existence of the company.
  • Browser Indication-A small green lock icon along with the company name.
  • Turn-Around time-Usually a week.

Extended validation

This is the highest level of SSL that anyone can buy. Along with domain validation and company legal existence, this type of validation also checks its physical address. If everything is verified, the certifying authority issue an extended validation SSL certificate.

  • Encryption level-High
  • Mode of verification-The CA checks the company’s physical address along with domain validation and legal existence
  • Browser Indication-A small green lock icon along with the company name and location.
  • Turn-Around time-Few weeks
Types Of SSL Certificates
Image Credit: About SSL

Single Domain SSL Certificate

As the name suggests, the single-domain SSL certificate will protect only one domain. What that means is, if I buy an SSL certificate for riansclub.com, I can not use it to protect forum.riansclub.com.

Wildcard SSL certificate

This type of SSL certificate will project the purchased domain along with all subdomains. For example, if I buy an SSL certificate for riansclub.com, I can use the same certificate to protect forum.riansclub.com, mail.riansclub.com, etc.

Types Of SSL Certificates
Image Credit: Quora

Multi-Domain /Unified / SAN SSL certificate

On top of a single domain and wildcard domain SSL certificate, this type of SSL certificate protects multiple domains.

For example, If I buy an SSL certificate for riansclub.com, then I can also use it for mail.riansclub.com, forum.riansclub.com, riansclub. in, riansclub.net. etc.

Free SSL certificate is worth trying?

Most of the free SSL certificate offered by many certifying authority is of domain Validation type. It offers a basic level of security without any bells and whistles.

Free SSL is only suitable for personal blogs or static websites.

Let’s Encrypt is one of the leading free SSL certificate providers. Usually nowadays with all shared hosting, Lets Encrypt comes preinstalled in the webserver.

What is a self-signed SSL certificate?

Instead of getting an SSL certificate from a trusted certifying authority, the webmaster can sign their SSL certificate. Since the certificate is self-signed, there is no cost involved.

Although it provides the same security level as domain Validation, self-signed certificates are not good for public websites. Many browsers do not recognize this type of certificate and give an error or warning.

How can I get SSL for my website?

Before buying an SSL certificate, you need to decide which type of SSL you need to buy. Below is the matrix that may help you to choose.

  • WordPress Blogs: Domain Validation or Organization Validation SSL
  • Static Websites: Domain Validation SSL
  • Corporate Websites: Extended Validation
  • E-commerce Websites: Extended Validation
  • Finance Websites: Extended Validation
  • Social Networking Sites: Extended Validation
  • Forum Websites: Organisation Validation

Talking about whether we should choose a single Domain or multi-domain SSL depends on the size of your business. The cost varies based on that. Once you decide on the type of SSL, you can choose from the following vendors.

Factor to consider before choosing SSL certifying authority

Although it largely depends on the business requirements but following basic features we should always consider before buying an SSL certificate.

  • Brand
  • Number of years in business
  • Site seal
  • Trust level
  • Turnaround time
  • The number of domains
  • Server licensing
  • Browser support
  • Mobile support
  • Customer support

If you love to know about the Types of SSL certificates in video format then this video on Youtube might be helpful for you.

Conclusion: Types Of SSL Certificates

SSL certificates are a must for websites. Without that, search engines won’t even index your site properly.

So it’s better you have one. Otherwise, it will be a problem for your business.

I hope I could able to give you a clear idea about different types of SSL certificates. If you still have some questions, please write in the comment section and I will be happy to answer.

FAQ | Types Of SSL Certificates

What Are The Different Types Of SSL Certificates?

There are mainly three types of SSL certificates as shown below.

Domain Validation SSL Certificate
Organisational Validation SSL Certificate
Extended Validation SSL Certificate

Why SSL Certificate Is Needed?

SSL certificates are needed to create an encrypted connection between the web browser and the web server so that when we submit any information, there are very few chances that a hacker can steal that information.

Who Gives SSL Certificate?

Certifying Authority gives SSL certificates. The below list shows some of the well-known certifying authorities.

Rapid SSL
About SSL
Comodo SSL
Digicert
Entrust
GoDaddy
GeoTrust
GlobalSign

What Type Of SSL Certificate Do I Need For eCommerce?

For eCommerce stores, you need the highest level of security as customers will be doing financial transactions. That is why the extended validation SSL certificate is recommended.

What Is an SSL certificate?

SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remain private

Do SSL Certificates Cost Money?

Most web hosts offer SSL certificates for free. However, if you want better security, then you need to invest in SSL certificates.

Rajib

Rajib

Rajib Is The Founder Of RiansTech. A Seasonal Blogger And A Full-Time Product Designer For Over Two Decades. A Technology Freak And Loves To Write About It. RiansTech Is A Online Home For Him Where He Documents His Experiences And Learnings So That Others Can Get Benefited From It.

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