What is the SSL certificate? How the SSL Certificate Works, and why is SSL important?
What is the SSL certificate? According to verisign, “SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a global standard security technology that enables encrypted communication between a web browser and a web server.”
Using an SSL certificate, a secure connection can be established between your browser and the site you are trying to access.
When a web server and a browser establish an encrypted connection via SSL, the data is protected from eavesdroppers.
Customers’ personal information and online transactions should be protected by SSL certificates, which can be installed on a company’s website.
Internet connections can be made secure by using an SSL certificate, which prevents hackers from reading or altering data exchanged between two systems.
An SSL certificate ensures that the website you visit is secure when you see a lock icon next to the URL of the address bar.
SSL has gone through numerous iterations since it was first developed, which have had security flaws. Later, a revamped version of TLS (Transport Layer Security, Transport Layer Security) was released with a new name: TLS (Transport Layer Security).
However, the initial SSL has been retained, so the latest version of the protocol is still referred to as SSL.
What is the SSL Certificate and How does the SSL Certificate Work?
SSL certificates ensure that data transmitted between users and websites or between two systems cannot be deciphered by third parties.
It protects data being transmitted by encrypting it with encryption algorithms, rendering it unreadable by hackers. Names, addresses, credit card numbers, and other private financial information may be included in this data.
The following is how it works:
- Certificate-protected websites (webservers) are attempted to be connected to by a web browser or server.
- The browser or server asks the webserver to identify itself to the browser or server.
- Web servers respond by sending the browser or server a copy of their SSL certificate in response to the request.
- The browser or server monitors to see if the SSL certificate is legit before allowing access. If this is the case, the webserver receives a notification.
- As a result, an SSL-encrypted session is established by the webserver.
- For the encrypted data to be shared, it must be decrypted first.
- “SSL handshaking” is the term used to describe this step.
In reality, the entire procedure takes only a few milliseconds.
URLs with HTTPS (HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) appear when a website has an SSL certificate.
Otherwise, only the letters HTTP, not including the “secure” S, appear on a website. The URL bar will also display a lock icon. This indicates that it is a trustworthy site and provides visitors with a sense of security.
For information about an SSL certificate, click the lock symbol in your browser. SSL certificates typically include the following information:
- An issued certificate is associated with a specific domain name.
- How it was given out to the recipient.
- Which certifying body provided the seal of approval?
- The certificate authority’s digital signature
- Subdomains that are related
- Date of issuance of the certificate
- The certificate’s expiration date
- It’s the public key (the private key is not revealed)
The SSL Certificate Types
SSL certificates come in various flavours, each with a different level of validation, so it’s essential to know how the SSL certificate works.
This is a list of the six main categories:
1. Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)
The most expensive and highly rated SSL certificate is this one. High-profile websites that collect data and accept online payments are more likely to use it.
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The padlock, HTTPS acronym, company name, and country are all displayed in the browser’s address bar once this SSL certificate is installed. It helps distinguish legitimate websites from malicious ones by showing their owner in the URL address bar.
A website owner must undergo a standard identity verification process to prove legally entitled to the domain name to get an EV SSL certificate.
2. Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL)
An extensive validation process is required to obtain an EV SSL certificate, which has a similar level of security to this version of the SSL certificate.
This type of certificate displays the website owner’s information in the address bar to distinguish it from malicious sites.
The primary function of an OV SSL certificate is to encrypt sensitive user data during transactions, making them the second most expensive certificate type (after EV SSL).
OV SSL certificates must be installed on commercial or public websites to protect customers’ private information.
3. Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL)
Domain validation SSL certificates provide the least security and encryption because the validation process is minimal.
The most common use is on educational websites or blogs, which do not collect personal information or make online payments. Compared to other SSL certificates, this one is among the cheapest and fastest to acquire.
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Website owners are only required to respond to an email or phone call to complete the verification process. The company name is absent from the URL address bar, which only shows HTTPS and a padlock.
4. Wildcard SSL Certificates
Using a wildcard SSL certificate, you can protect a single domain and all of its subdomains. Purchasing a wildcard SSL certificate is significantly less expensive than buying individual SSL certificates for each subdomain.
Any valid subdomain with the same base domain can be represented by an asterisk * in the common name of a wildcard SSL certificate.
5. Multi-Domain SSL Certificates (MDC)
It is possible to secure many domains and subdomains with a multi-domain certificate. To exclude local or internal TLDs, this includes the combination of entirely distinct domain names and subdomains.
In multi-domain certificates, subdomains are not supported. To be protected, both www.example.com and example.com must be specified when obtaining a cross-domain certificate.
6. Unified Communications Certificates (UCC)
SSL certificates that cover multiple domains, such as UCCs, are also known as multi-domain certificates. As a starting point, UCCs were designed to protect the servers for Microsoft Exchange and Live Communications.
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Any website owner can now use these certificates to secure multiple domain names under a single certificate. A padlock appears in the browser when a UCC certificate has been verified at the organizational level.
As EV SSL certificates, UCCs can be used to give site visitors the highest possible level of security via the green address bar.
To ensure that you get the correct SSL certificate for your website, you must be familiar with the various options available.
What Does the SSL Certificate Protect?
The SSL certificate helps protect information such as:
- Login credentials
- Credit card transactions or bank account information
- Personally information, such as full name, address, date of birth, or phone number
- Legal documents and contracts
- Clinic history
- property information
How to Get the SSL Certificate
A Certificate Authority (CA) is where most people get their SSL certificates. Certificate authorities, or certification authorities, issue millions of SSL certificates each year.
They significantly impact how the Internet functions and maintain trustworthy and transparent online interactions.
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Getting an SSL certificate can cost anywhere from nothing to hundreds of dollars, depending on how secure you want your site to be. Determine what type of certificate you needed and how to get the SSL certificate before searching for certificate issuers that fit your requirements.
As a result, we’ll look at how to get the SSL certificate to lessen the damage done by online criminals.
To obtain an SSL certificate, follow these steps:
- Preparation includes configuring the server and verifying that your WHOIS record matches what you are sending to the certification authority (it should show the correct company name and address, etc.)
- a certificate signing request(CSR) is generated on the server and sent to the client. Your web hosting provider can assist you with this step.
- To verify your domain and company information, send this information to the certificate authority.
- Install the certificate they provide once the process is complete.
- Once obtained, you must configure the certificate on your web hosting or your servers if you are hosting the website on your own.
The type of certificate you require and the certificate provider from whom you request it will affect the timeframe for its delivery. The deadline for each level of validation varies.
A simple domain validation SSL certificate can be issued within a couple of minutes of request, while an extended warranty can take up to a week.
A single certificate may be used to encrypt the traffic between two or more hosts.
Multiple domains can share the same SSL certificate on the same server.
Using the same SSL certificate across multiple servers may be possible depending on your service provider. This is now possible thanks to the multi-domain SSL certificates that we discussed earlier.
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As the name suggests, Multi-domain SSL certificates work with multiple domains, and the certification authority determines the total number of domains. A single-domain SSL certificate only protects one domain, whereas a multi-domain SSL certificate protects many domains simultaneously.
Cross-domain SSL certificates may also be referred to as SAN certificates by others. “Subject Alternate Name” is the abbreviation for SAN. SANs can be added to a multi-domain certificate to be used to secure multiple domains.
Unified Communications Certificates (UCC) and Wildcard SSL Certificates also allow multiple domains and an unlimited number of subdomains, which is a good thing.
When an SSL certificate expires, what happens?
SSL certificates do not last indefinitely. According to the Certificate Authority or Navigation Forum, SSL certificates have a shelf life of no more than 27 months. It’s going to be two years.
Your previous SSL certificate can be extended for three months if you renew it before it expires.
As with any form of authentication, the information contained in SSL certificates must be periodically revalidated to ensure its accuracy.
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Companies and websites are being bought and sold on the Internet, and SSL certificates have relevant information that is subject to change as the owner of the certificate does. When a server or organization’s authentication information expires, it ensures that it is up-to-date.
Since the introduction of the two-year-plus-three-month extension, SSL certificates have been limited to two years, with the option of an additional three months.
One-year SSL certificates will be implemented by Google, Apple, and Mozilla in 2020, despite the Certificate Authority Browsing Forum’s rejection of this proposal. In September 2020, this new policy went into effect. The validity period may be reduced even further in the future.
When an SSL certificate expires, the site is no longer accessible. Within milliseconds of arriving at a website, the user’s browser checks to see if the SSL certificate is valid (part of the SSL handshake). “This site is not secure.” is displayed to visitors if their SSL certificate has expired. “There is a possibility of danger.”
However, doing so is not recommended because of the risk of being infected with malware and other cybersecurity issues. Bounce rates will take a significant hit from this, as users will be able to exit the home page and visit another site quickly.
Larger organizations have difficulty keeping track of SSL certificate expiration dates. An enterprise-level organization with numerous websites and networks and the potential to transact in the market will have more certificates to manage than a small or medium-sized business (SMB).
This level of carelessness, rather than incompetence, leads to SSL certificates expiring. A certificate management platform is the best way for large companies to keep track of the expiration dates of their SSL certificates.
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An internet search will yield a large number of options. Companies can access and manage the entire infrastructure’s digital certificates using these products. Make sure you log in frequently to track when your subscription is renewed.
If you allow a certificate to expire, your website will no longer be able to process secure transactions. If you don’t renew your SSL certificate, the certificate authority will let you know.
Even if you use a certificate authority or an SSL certificate service, this entity will send you expiration notifications at set intervals, typically beginning after 90 days.
If the reminder recipient has left the company or taken on a new role when the reminder is sent, it is best to send the reminder to an email distribution list rather than just one person. Consider who is on the mailing list to ensure the right people receive reminders at the right time.
Why do I need an SSL certificate?
Websites need SSL certificates to protect users’ data, show who owns the site, thwart attempts to make a fake copy of the site, and build users’ trust.
Data confidentiality is essential if a website requires users to log in, enter personal information like their credit card numbers, or view sensitive material like health benefits or financial information.
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To ensure the security of online transactions, SSL certificates are used. These certificates show that a website is genuine and that any personal information you send is safe.
Website owners can benefit from SSL certificates in the following ways:
Build Trust: Our SSL Certificates also place a padlock in your URL, showing visitors that your website uses an SSL service.
Boost Your Google Ranking: One of the most important ranking factors for Google is the safety of a website’s content.
Prefixing a URL with an HTTPS prefix demonstrates to search engines that the site encrypts sensitive information and is, therefore, safe to use. Having SSL-certified websites appear higher in search results means more organic traffic for you.
Comply with PCI DSS Standards– The PCI DSS Standards, including SSL certification, are required for online businesses that accept digital payments and handle visitors’ personal information.
If your business website doesn’t have reliable security, you’re putting your customers at risk and not meeting regulatory requirements.
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Secure Customer’s Data – Customers’ information is protected by SSL certificates, which use up to 256-bit encryption as the industry standard.
At this level of encryption, your visitors’ personal information is safe from other people’s eyes.
How to know if a site has an SSL certificate
Look in your browser’s address bar to check if a website has an SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate protects a website whose URL begins with HTTPS rather than HTTP.
To understand how the SSL certificate works and learn more about a site’s security, click on the padlock icon; trustworthy sites have green padlocks or address bars.
A red padlock, an unlocked padlock, a line through the website address, or a warning triangle at the top of the browser emblem are all indicators that a connection is not secure in most browsers.
You must understand how to secure your online session. Only give your personal information and online payment information to websites with OV or EV certificates.
E-commerce websites should not use DV certificates. By looking at the address bar, you can tell if a site has an OV or EV certificate.
The organization’s name will be displayed in the address bar of an EV SSL certificate. An OV SSL certificate has a lock icon that shows the organization’s name. Only the lock icon is visible in the case of a DV SSL certificate.
Consult the website’s privacy statement. This provides insight into how your data will be used, and a legitimate business will be transparent about collecting and using your data.
It’s essential to watch for telltale signs of trustworthiness on websites. Trusted websites have accredited logos or badges that show that the website complies with specific security standards.
Two more ways to ensure the legitimacy of a website are to look for a physical address and a phone number. Check the return policy and make sure the prices aren’t too good to be true.
Be on the lookout for phishing scams! Hackers often use websites that look exactly like legitimate ones to trick unsuspecting users into making purchases or entering their personal information on their phishing sites.
The phishing site can obtain an SSL certificate and encrypt all traffic between your device and the site. Because of the padlock icon, it is becoming increasingly common for phishing scams to take place on HTTPS sites.
To avoid these types of attacks, keep the following in mind:
Ensure you’re on the correct website by double-checking the domain name and ensuring the address is correct.
If you aren’t sure of the site’s authenticity, don’t provide personal information like your username, password, or banking credentials.
Before registering for anything on a website, look at what it has to offer, whether it seems suspect, and whether or not you need it.
Internet users can better protect themselves and their private information from scams and hackers if they know what types of SSL certificates to look for and how to tell a safe site from a dangerous one.
The website owner must understand how the SSL Certificate works and the tactics used to implement it. This will help him figure out how to get the SSL Certificate and put it on his websites or blogs, which will keep them safe.
Visitors will have faith that the site is safe and secure due to this measure.
What is in a SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate is a file stored on the origin server of a website. SSL/TLS encryption is made possible by SSL certificates, which contain the public key and identity of the website and relevant information.
What is difference between SSL and HTTPS?
When a browser communicates with another computer, it uses HTTPS, a secure version of HTTP. The encrypted data is transmitted using SSL/TLS. When it comes to encrypting data, SSL uses an encryption protocol.
Which is more reliable, SSL or HTTPS?
SSL/TLS-encrypted communications through HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) are more secure than plain HTTP.
It is safer and more secure since TLS (SSL) encrypts typical HTTP requests and answers.
What is the purpose of SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate is a software on your web server that encrypts data sent over the internet. The SSL certificate permits an encrypted connection when a browser visits your protected website.
It’s similar to putting a letter in an envelope and sealing it before mailing it.
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What do think about the use of SSL certificates and online transactions safety? Share your opinion in the comments section below.