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SSL Certificate: What Is It And Why Is It Important?

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Until 2014, when Google recommended that websites switch to HTTPS, most websites were using HTTP. Google announced that the switch can provide HTTPS websites a minor ranking boost while ensuring added safety for their users.

Now, you are probably wondering what is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? What difference does this extra “s” make?

While browsing websites, you may have noticed, websites that ask for sensitive information like credit card details, have their URLs starting with “https://”.

This extra “s” indicates that the website is secure to enter any user data. The technology that integrates “https” is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

Let’s break down SSL further for beginners and understand how it is helpful.

What is an SSL certificate?

Secure Sockets Layer is an advance level encryption protocol used by websites to protect confidential data shared by their visitors. An SSL certificate provides a method to create an encrypted connection between a web server and a web browser for a safe flow of data.

SSL certificates utilise a combination of symmetric and asymmetric keys to authenticate and secure data. Considering the level of protection that the SSL technology provides around online operations, it has become an industry standard utilised by millions of websites worldwide to secure online payments, logins, data transfer and even browsing of social media sites.

What are different types of SSL certificates?

While there are different types of SSL certificates serving different purposes, a website with a certain certificate is not to be deemed securer than the one with a different certificate.

Instead, different certificate types indicate different levels of website integrity.

Domain Validation Certificate

Domain validated certificates are the easiest to obtain as they cost lesser than other certificates and don’t require extensive background checks and validation formalities. These certificates only inform the user of a website’s domain name and CA.

While DV certificates provide the same levels of data encryption as other validations, they don’t assure the authenticity and identity of the business behind the website. This kind of certificate is a common choice amongst small sized businesses with very limited security concerns for it is quickly issued and comes at a lower price.

Organisational Validation Certificate

Issuance of OV certificates requires complete business verification by a certificate authority through established vetting processes like manually checking WHOIS, passport, Dunn & Bradstreet number, driver’s license etc.

In the certification information, a user may find the company’s complete name, address details and who it is verified by. That said, OV certificates offer a higher level of assurance and trust to the end-users about the company than DV certificates.

Extended Validation Certificate

EV certification requires the highest level of validation through rigorous vetting processes while complying with the guidelines laid out by the Certificate Authority/Browser Forum. The websites with an EV certificate, when opened, turn the address bar green, clearly assuring the trustworthiness of the company.

EV certificates are available for all types of businesses including online retailers and government entities, except individuals.

How to tell if a website uses SSL?

A website using an SSL encryption:

  • Has its address starting with “https”.
  • Displays a lock symbol to the left most side of the https in the address bar.

Moreover, websites with an Extended Validation SSL certificate may have their company name displaying with the lock symbol.

Do you need an SSL certificate?

If you are an eCommerce site or engage in transmit of sensitive data, you definitely need an SSL certificate.

In a nutshell, your website needs SSL encryption if:

  • It requires user authentication (login ids and passwords) to access information.
  • It deals with online orders, bank accounts and credit card payments.
  • It stores and transfers sensitive data like IDs, birth dates, license numbers etc.
  • It deals with legal documents, medical information, contracts, proprietary clients etc.

Where can you get an SSL certificate?

The first step to obtaining an SSL certificate is to determine what type of SSL validation your business needs. While a standard SSL certificate works for most websites, if you use multiple domains, you may need more than one SSL certificate.

If you are still confused about your choices, your hosting provider should be able to help you determine what type of SSL certificate will suit your business.

At Amaze, we have a team of certified experts that specialise in Magento web hosting, WordPress website hosting, cloud hosting and more. Our professionals can assist you in choosing from a range of SSL validation solutions to ensure a high level of security around your website communications and processes.

With a reputation for providing unparalleled managed Magento hosting and dedicated server hosting solutions to eCommerce sites, we ensure confidence in website security with daily malware scan, anti-phishing protection and 24/7 expert support.

The takeaway

Online security is one of the major concerns in the minds of customers that shop online. In the highly advanced era where nearly everyone can create a website and start selling products online, customers are looking for potent reasons to trust your website.

SSL certificates are a proven way to show your visitors that your site is legitimate and safe to share their sensitive information or make online payments. If you have taken the effort and time to build a website, it only makes sense to instil trust and confidence in your customers by obtaining a suitable SSL certificate.