What You Need to Know Before Buying SSL Certificate

When it comes to managing your website, you need to take a lot of factors into account while plowing through website development to web hosting. Then you can finally start your business. eCommerce, blog hub, web applications or whatever it may be, you are most likely looking forward to having a lot of visitors to your website.

With the visitors increasing day by day, your business will reach new heights (some don’t make it that far though. Digital realm can be tough). But then, with a booming business, you will probably scale up your hosting plan. You are going to need a bigger storage capacity to save all that information from visitors.

Scaled up, and everything going smoothly when suddenly you notice that someone is messing around with the private information of your customers (users; assuming you are running an eCommerce website). First, you panic. Then there will be chaos. Who knows what this person will do with that all that information your customers so trustingly provided you.

This is where you need SSL to take care of things.

What SSL Does?

SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is your sentinel. It can protect the sensitive data between the server and the client by encrypting them. An SSL certificate for your eCommerce website not only protects the data and invokes trust but also drives your website to a positive search engine ranking.

SSL is a must-have for any eCommerce website or web applications where financial transactions happen. That being said, many would claim that bloggers don’t actually require SSL as they are only providing information to visitors unlike eCommerce sites. You should consider the fact that blogs are not something that just provides information. Blogs may affect the decision made by the reader on something.

Blogs aren’t safe from man-in-the-middle attacks either – a security issue not to be underestimated. But SSL encryption takes care of that as well.

Types of SSL

There are different types of SSL certifications to choose from. They are grouped based on the number of secured domains or subdomains and the validation level.

Based on secured domain/subdomain

Single name SSL – Only secures a single host name – either one of your domains or one of your subdomains.

Wildcard SSL – This is what you want if your domain has a lot of subdomains. But only secures the subdomains of a single domain.

Multi-domain SSL – The way to go when you have multiple domains and subdomains. Secures them all.

Based on validation level

Domain validation – Done using email or by adding a DNS record. You just need to validate the fact that you own the domain. It’s cheap, quick to acquire, and ideal for blogs. However, not recommended for eCommerce websites.

Organization validation – Here, the Certificate Authority validates your ownership of the domain. It isn’t much different from domain validation.

Extended validation – Ever noticed a green HTTPS in the address bar of websites? This one gives the same to your website. If your website deals with transactions, you’d better get this certificate. You will go through a rigid authentication procedure, but end up having the browser display that the certificate was issued to your organization. Instant trust material.

More information on SSL…

Shared SSLs and Dedicated SSLs

One is free. The other is not. Hazard a guess.

Good guess. Shared SSLs are free. Companies like CloudFlare offers free SSLs making bloggers happy (if you ignore a few security concerns). Also, don’t expect a lot of support for shared SSLs, though a bit of Googling can remedy that.

Dedicated SSLs on the other hand will cost you, after which you will fully own them. They have good technical support.

Some more information on SSL…

You can buy SSL certificates from companies that sell them. If you are selling expensive goods through your eCommerce website, you should consider the trust factor before buying an SSL from a seller. Companies like Symantec (previously VeriSign), Comodo etc sell SSL certificates and are popular brand names.

There are economical deals for buying SSLs, and expensive ones if you own a high end eCommerce website or a productive web application for official use.

Where does a dedicated IP fit in?

Well, a dedicated IP address is not a prerequisite anymore to host an SSL certificate. However, if you have one, your SSL can be linked to that IP.

Even more information on SSL…

There are offers for SSL certificates on shared IP addresses as well. It’s referred to as SNI (Server Name Indication) – the host a client is a trying to connect to, and it allows connecting multiple certificates to the same IP address and gate.

Of course, there are trade-offs.

Mismatching certificate errors, incompatibility with older versions of web browsers etc. to name a few.

  • The minimum tenure for purchasing an SSL certificate is 1 year (no monthly deal).
  • A minimum of 128 bit SSL certificate is required if you want your website to accept debit/credit cards.

By now, you should have a good idea about what SSL can do for you and your business. Know that SSL can also make Google give you ranking benefits. So protection, sense of security to customers, and a pat on the back from Google – should be enough to get you on the SSL bandwagon.