How to Choose the Right SSL Certificate?
Purchasing an SSL certificate can make you want to bang your head. Read this if you don’t want to
A wide range of certificates, plethora of categories and plenty of CA’s…which one to choose? Here are our exclusive tips to bolster your website security by choosing the perfect SSL certificate for your website.
Technology is a growing trend and there are plenty of things a business can do to continue high growth levels. In the world of technology, a web presence for any established business is imperative, whether it’s a small business or a global enterprise. Most business owners prefer to increase awareness, sell and distribute their products and services online through e-commerce on their website. Having a secure site that creates trust with a high conversion rate is imperative. Trust is essential when selling products and services online.
Users constantly engage and interact with technology in many ways every day online and as a result, they are consistently searching and browsing the web. In the growing world of online shopping, finding products on the web and buying them is a quick and straightforward process. However, before clicking the buy button frequently users question whether their information is secure or not. When it comes to online security, the most popular and rapidly increasing solution for websites owners and operators is the installation of an SSL certificate. An SSL security certificate is essential to creating trust and boosting confidence which contributes to the success of an online business. This includes the protection of a website by deploying the technology of SSL encryption to secure transactions between web browsers and servers. SSL encryption technology is specially designed, developed and implemented to protect user’s sensitive information from professional hackers, while it is exchanged on the web.
An SSL certificate is specifically valuable in terms of website security; however, it also helps to win the trust of user’s and boosts their confidence which increases the return on investment (ROI) for business owners. The online brand reputation is important to consider because SSL is such a key factor in creating a positive web presence that is secure for users. Now, when it comes to buying an SSL certificate there are plenty of questions for website owners or operators to consider before choosing the right SSL certificate security solution for their website. It is recommended that a first time SSL buyer contact an SSL provider to explore the various solutions and to understand the details to choose the most trusted SSL brand and solution for their website.
There is a myriad of options available when it comes to buying an SSL certificate. Each certificate is different in terms of its attributes. These attributes play the key role in choosing the right SSL certificate.
So, how to choose the right one? Let’s find out.
Which Validation Level to Choose?
Every kind of SSL certificate does one job—encrypting the information traded between the browser and the server. However, they all are different. Primarily, the SSL certificates can be categorized into three main categories based on the validation process carried out before issuing the certificate.
Now, you must be wondering what this validation is. The validation process is carried out before issuing the certificate. The certificate authority (CA) sees over the entire procedure by asking for documents/proofs from the issuer. Validation is a critical process from the cyber security point of view as it ensures that the certificate is issued to legitimate owners/organizations only.
The nature of validation solemnly depends upon the type of certificate that you want to buy. It differs from certificate to certificate. As far as the validation level is concerned, there are mainly three types of SSL certificates. They are–domain validation (DV) certificate, organization validation (OV) certificate, and extended validation (EV) certificate. We have explained all of them in detail below.
Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificate:
A DV SSL certificate is the most basic type of SSL certificate. This is because it requires a minimal level of verification. As implied in the name itself, DV certificates involve confirmation of the domain ownership only. Therefore, once you demonstrate the domain ownership to the CA, you are good to go.
The DV certificates are meant for websites which do not deal with any sensitive data. Generally, small websites and blogs go for DV SSL as it is the lowest priced amongst all. Trust-signs coming with DV SSL doesn’t include much. All you get is a HTTPS, a padlock, and a static site seal. But you can’t know if the website belongs to the company. Therefore, fraudsters can easily trick the users using techniques such as phishing. Hence, we don’t recommend using DV SSL unless you don’t deal with any delicate information.
Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificate:
OV SSL provides an up gradation compared to DV SSL certificates. OV SSL is also known as ‘business authentication’. Unlike the DV SSL certificates, OV SSL displays information of the company. However, it comes with a limitation. The site visitor must go to certificate details to know the company details. The common users may not be able to find it.
Validation of business along with domain validation is executed by the certificate authority (CA) before issuing the certificate. The issuer needs to submit documents testifying the legitimacy of the organization.
Extended Validation SSL (EV) Certificate:
When it comes to providing a topmost level of authentication, EV SSL certificates lead the way. This is the reason why EV SSL certificates are entrusted by the largest e-commerce companies in the world. On installing an EV SSL, the site is equipped with easily recognizable trust-signs such as green address bar, green padlock, and most important of all–dynamic site seals. Apart from these signs, the company name is displayed visibly in the address bar. This plays a very crucial role as far as the credibility of your site is concerned. This leads to a rise in the customer trust levels which ultimately upsurges your revenues.
How Many Domains do you want to Secure?
Another factor playing a key role in choosing the right SSL certificate is the number of domains you want to protect using SSL. Buying a single certificate is a no-brainer if you want to secure a single domain. But most of the times, the website owners need to secure more than one domain. These domains can be divided into two categories, namely fully-qualified domains and sub-domains.
Confused? Don’t be. For better understanding, refer the below part so that you can make a choice without much fuss.
Wildcard SSL Certificate:
Wildcard SSL certificates allow you to safeguard an unlimited number of subdomains along with the main domain using a single SSL certificate. You can secure domains such as following by employing Wildcard SSL.
- domain.com (main domain)
The wildcard SSL certificates are advantageous in two aspects. Firstly, it saves you from troubles of buying and installing an individual certificate for each of your domain. Thus, you don’t have to go through the entire validation process to purchase an SSL certificate. This saves a significant amount of time. Secondly, it saves you a substantial chunk of money as you don’t have to pay for each and every SSL certificate.
A thing to note here is that the Wildcard certificates come with two domain validations—domain validation (DV) and organization validation (OV).
Multi-domain/SAN SSL Certificate:
Multi-domain/SAN SSL certificate provides an up gradation over Wildcard SSL certificate. Unlike the Wildcard SSL certificates, Multi-domain facilitates the user to secure multiple fully-qualified domains along with multiple sub-domains. Therefore, SAN SSL certificate is the way to go if you want to secure more than one primary domains.
The amount of warranty provided with the SSL certificates differs from certificate to certificate. The higher the level of validation, the higher is the warranty amount. In the case of any fraudulent accident with your customers, the certificate authority offers money as the payback. Ideally, this should never occur and it almost never does but it is always good to stay a step ahead right? Thus, the higher the warranty amount, the better it is for you.
Reputation of the Certificate Authority (CA)
Today, there are tons of options to choose from as far as the issuer(CA) is concerned. It is unquestionably indispensable to choose the best from the lot. How do you know which one is the best? Well, the reputation of the CA is the thing that you should look for. The market share of the CA is a major indication for that. If a CA is entrusted by millions of users worldwide, it puts a huge responsibility on its shoulders. Solid infrastructure must be in place to avoid any failure. They must keep researching and developing new techniques to stay a step ahead of the cyber attackers.
The Recent history of the CA is another important consideration to be looked for. In the past, some of the certificate authorities (CA’s) have been banned by web-browsers. It means that particular browser stopped supporting the SSL certificates provided by that CA. You don’t want that to happen, do you?
As mentioned above, the validation procedure is different for various levels. If you want the certificate to be issued within minutes, you should go for domain validation if it falls within your requirements. In the case of OV SSL, it takes 2-3 days to get it issued. The EV SSL takes around 2-4 days as it requires a considerable amount of scrutiny. The time mentioned above is the ideal time. If the CA has any uncertainties, they might ask for more evidence from your side which may make the issuance process a bit longer.
This factor will always be as crucial factor as any when it comes to selecting the right SSL certificate. There are many factors affecting the price of the SSL certificate. These factors include brand, type of SSL, validation period etc. You should take all these factors into consideration. If you want to install SSL certificate for more than a year, then selecting multi-year option gives hefty advantage as far as the price is concerned.
Additional Security Elements
Some of the CA’s offer additional security elements with the SSL certificates. These tools prove to be helpful for the security of your website. So, look for these elements before making the choice.
In case of any troubles, it is always good to have an expert to guide you along the way. Having access to the customer support can save you from troubles. Look for an SSL provider which assists you with 24/7 customer support. The support might be in the form of chat, email, calls etc.
But Which One is Right for Me?
Choosing the right SSL can be a puzzling task if you don’t have much idea about it. To make it easier, I suggest asking yourself these three questions:
- What is my purpose behind installing SSL certificate?
- Which validation level do I need based on my purpose?
- How many primary domains and sub-domains do I want to secure?
Refer to the following infographic provided by CACS.