What is a SSL certificate?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a cryptographic protocol designed to keep communication safe over the Internet. An SSL certificate is a digitally signed file issued for a particular domain name/domain names. Besides the domain name, the certificate also contains the issuer signature, serial number, expiration date, etc. To enable a secure connection and protect important information, an SSL certificate file should be installed on the server. Once the SSL installation is completed, you can securely access your service via HTTPS or any other SSL protocols like FTPS, IMAPS, POP3S, SMTPS, NNTPS, LDAPS, etc.
So, let’s take a look at main advantages of using a SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate helps to protect sensitive information such as logins, passwords, account details and cardholders information for e-commerce websites during Internet communication. Basically, Internet is a chain of computers, and every computer which takes part in data transfer from source to destination can read and recognize unencrypted information. The main idea is that all information is encrypted before being submitted, and only the web server and website visitor have personal keys to decrypt and recognize it. Encryption prevents eavesdropping and tampering information by hackers and identity thieves.
It is important to know that a website you would like to visit and where you want to make a payment is authentic and trustworthy. To ease identification, the website server sends an SSL certificate to your web browser for verification. The web browser analyzes the information received from the SSL certificate and decides whether the certificate is trusted or not. Why some SSL certificates are trusted, and others are not? The main difference is that trusted SSL certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities after the applicant (website owner) passes their verification procedures. Every modern web browser with up-to-date configuration trusts the SSL certificates issued by Certificate Authorities. The verification depth and trust level mostly depend on the validation type of a particular SSL certificate.
validation. The most affordable and the least verified SSL certificate
type. Usually, the Certificate Authority verifies only domain control
rights for a particular domain name. More instructions on how to
complete domain control validation (DCV) can be found here.
Organization validation. SSL certificates of this type contain the company name and address by default. The person who applies for an OV certificate should prove that the organization is real. The organization details must be accessible in online public databases; the organization’s phone number is verified as well. The Certificate Authority may also require additional paperwork to prove the company’s identity. Detailed validation information for OV certificates can be found here.
Extended validation. Only EV certificates provide a green bar with the company name and the highest user trust level. Besides OV requirements, an EV certificate can be applied for by a legal employee (VP, Officer, CEO, CIO) who has the authority to sign a subscriber agreement and a certificate request. The organization must have been registered and have been in operation for more than 3 years; otherwise, the CA may require additional paperwork. More information about extended validation can be found here.
Google search ranking boost
Starting from 06/08/2014, Google announced that having an SSL certificate installed on your website will increase your ranking position, which is another great reason to use SSL.
An SSL certificate also provides your web-resource with trusted indicators which can help visitors to make sure that your website is reliably protected.All SSL certificates from the Namecheap company provide a padlock in the address bar and the https:// connection no matter of which validation type they are.Certificate Authorities supply every SSL product with additional security signs – site seals that may be installed on your website as well. These are optional security signs which can be static and dynamic. Dynamic site seals as well as SSL certificates may show various information about your domain name, organization (if you have one), Certificate Authority and security parameters. Let’s take a look at different trusted indicators based on validation types:
Domain validation SSL certificates:
Trusted indicators for a correctly installed and configured SSL certificate should be https:// in the address bar and padlock without any warning messages (mandatory). The examples of these signs for a domain validation SSL certificate in various web browsers can be found below:
SSL is the backbone of our secure Internet and it protects your sensitive information as it travels across the world’s computer networks. SSL is essential for protecting your website, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information like credit cards. It provides privacy, critical security and data integrity for both your websites and your users’ personal information.
SSL Encrypts Sensitive Information
The primary reason why SSL is used is to keep sensitive information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient can understand it. This is important because the information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to the destination server. Any computer in between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted with an SSL certificate. When an SSL certificate is used, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you are sending the information to. This protects it from hackers and identity thieves.
SSL Provides Authentication
In addition to encryption, a proper SSL certificate also provides authentication. This means you can be sure that you are sending information to the right server and not to an imposter trying to steal your information. Why is this important? The nature of the Internet means that your customers will often be sending information through several computers. Any of these computers could pretend to be your website and trick your users into sending them personal information. It is only possible to avoid this by using a proper Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), and getting an SSL Certificate from a trusted SSL provider.
Why are SSL providers important? Trusted SSL providers will only issue an SSL certificate to a verified company that has gone through several identity checks. Certain types of SSL certificates, like EV SSL Certificates, require more validation than others. How do you know if an SSL provider is trusted? You can use our SSL Wizard to compare SSL providers that are included in most web browsers. Web browser manufactures verify that SSL providers are following specific practices and have been audited by a third-party using a standard such as WebTrust.
SSL Provides Trust
Web browsers give visual cues, such as a lock icon or a green bar, to make sure visitors know when their connection is secured. This means that they will trust your website more when they see these cues and will be more likely to buy from you. SSL providers will also give you a trust seal that instills more trust in your customers.
HTTPS also protects against phishing attacks. A phishing email is an email sent by a criminal who tries to impersonate your website. The email usually includes a link to their own website or uses a man-in-the-middle attack to use your own domain name. Because it is very difficult for these criminals to receive a proper SSL certificate, they won’t be able to perfectly impersonate your site. This means that your users will be far less likely to fall for a phishing attack because they will be looking for the trust indicators in their browser, such as a green address bar, and they won’t see it.
SSL is required for PCI Compliance
In order to accept credit card information on your website, you must pass certain audits that show that you are complying with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. One of the requirements is properly using an SSL Certificate.
Disadvantages of SSL
With so many advantages, why would anyone not use SSL? Are there any disadvantages to using SSL certificates? Cost is an obvious disadvantage. SSL providers need to set up a trusted infrastructure and validate your identity so there is a cost involved. This has been alleviated by increased competition in the industry and the introduction of providers like Let’s Encrypt. Performance is another disadvantage to SSL. Because the information that you send has to be encrypted by the server, it takes more server resources than if the information weren’t encrypted. The performance difference is only noticeable for web sites with very large numbers of visitors and can be minimized with special hardware in such cases.
the disadvantages of using SSL are few and the advantages far outweigh
them. It is critical that you properly use SSL on all websites. Proper
use of SSL certificates will help protect your customers, help protect
you, and help you to gain your customers trust and sell more.