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    A Beginner’s Guide on How SSL Certificates Work

    An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and allows for encrypted connections. It is a protocol that web browsers and servers use to ensure that all data between them are kept private. It is accomplished by using an encrypted link between the browser and server.

    SSL stands for Secured Socket Layer. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), and its successor TLS (Transport Layer Security), are both methods that protect and encrypt sensitive data such as usernames and passwords, credit cards, and other information sent over the Internet. SSL and TLS-secured website pages are marked with the HTTPS in the URL address. If an SSL Certificate is installed on your website you assure to your potential customers that their personal information is protected and in safe hands, such as their name, address and credit card number etc.

    If you don’t want security breaches to occur while you transact business with customers online, it is essential that you have an SSL Certificate installed on your website. SSL certificates are trusted by users because they verify that the websites they use to track finances or make online purchases, and thus create trust.

    How SSL Certificates Work?

    SSL uses encryption algorithms to encrypt data during transit. This prevents hackers reading it once it has been sent over the internet. These data can include names, addresses, credit cards numbers or other financial information.

    The web browser of a user visiting an SSL/HTTPS website first confirms that the SSL certificate is valid. If all goes well, the browser will use the public key of the website to encrypt data. The data is encrypted and sent back to the website (the intended server), where it is decrypted with the secret private key and the public key.

    Do you really need an SSL Certificate for your Website?

    The simple answer is, yes!

    Search engines are cracking down against websites that they perceive as not being secure. Websites without SSL certificates will still be http, while encrypted sites will display https in the browsers of users. Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers are now warning users that non-https websites are not secure. Google has also announced that SSL is a ranking signal. This means that if you don’t have SSL, your site will be more difficult to find. This could impact your revenue and traffic.

    An SSL certificate does more than protect transactions and customers’ private data. An SSL certificate will help you build trust with your customers and make your business more trustworthy.

    Different types of SSL Certificates

    There are three types of SSL certificates. Each type offers a different level security. There are many types of certificates with different levels of security. It is important to know what type of SSL certificate is being used by a website when it performs financial transactions or handles personal user data.

    01. Domain Validated (DV)

    The DV certificate only verifies who is the owner of the site. The Certificate Authorities will simply send an email to the registered email address of the website to verify its identity. It is not necessary to provide any information about the company. Be aware that DV certificates have the lowest level of trust and are commonly used by cybercriminals3 because they are easy to obtain and can make a website appear more secure than it is.

    02. Organizationally Verified (OV)

    A Certificate Authority must verify certain information in order to receive an OV certificate. This includes the organization’s physical location and its domain name. The process usually takes several days. OV certificates have a moderate level of trust and are a good option for public-facing websites that deal with less sensitive transactions.

    03. Extended validation (EV)

    Websites that deal with sensitive information should have this certificate. This certificate is the most secure, and it is also the easiest to identify. The Certificate Authorities conduct an enhanced review on the applicant in order to issue an EV certification. This is done to increase confidence in the business. The process involves the examination of corporate documents, verification of applicant identity, as well as checking the information against a third-party database. If the URL bar of a browser contains a padlock, and the company name appears in green, users can determine if a website has an EV certificate.

    How to get an SSL Certificate for your Website?

    You can obtain SSL certificates directly from a Certificate Authority. Each year, millions of SSL certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities (sometimes also known as Certification Authorities).

    An SSL certificate costs anywhere from free to hundreds of dollars depending on what level of security you need. After you have decided on the type of SSL certificate you need, you can start looking for Certificate Issuers that offer SSLs at the required level.

    What if my SSL Certificate expires

    SSL certificates don’t last forever and are subject to expiration. The de facto regulator for SSL industry, the Certificate Authority, states that SSL certificates should not last more than 27 months. This basically means that you can extend your SSL certificate’s life by up to three years.

    The site becomes unreachable if an SSL certificate is lost. The SSL handshake ensures that the SSL certificate is valid within milliseconds when a visitor’s browser arrives on a website. Visitors will be notified if the SSL certificate is expired. If there is a potential risk, users will have the option of proceeding or not (but it is not recommended due to the cybersecurity risks, including the possibility for malware). Website owners will notice a significant drop in bounce rates as visitors quickly leave the homepage to go somewhere else.

    You can’t run secure transactions on your website if your SSL certificate has expired. The Certification Authority (CA), usually notify you to renew your SSL certificate prior to the expiration date.

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