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An SSL Certificate primer

April 23, 2020

Categories: Digital Marketing | Uncategorized

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate provides website authentication and enables an encrypted connection to send sensitive information across the internet to a specific recipient.

Having this type of security is important. As information is passed, anyone who sees your information before it reaches the designated server can see your personal information (such as credit card numbers and passwords) if the information is not encrypted with an SSL certificate.

With SSL encryption your information is illegible to everyone except for the server you are sending the information to. An SSL certificate also ensures that the provider is who they claim to be, and not some hacker trying to steal your information. These certificates require domain validation, organization validation, or extended validation and help ensure online purchases are secure and legitimate.

What’s the difference between these types of certifications?

    • Domain validation
      Only verifies that someone has control over a domain
      Are very quick, easy, and cheap to obtain
    • Organization validation
      Verifies the identity of the company/person that owns the domain
      Are more expensive and require the submission of the proper paperwork
      They  can take days to weeks to be issued depending on the required information and how long it takes to obtain and submit
      These types of certifications are extremely difficult for new businesses that are less than one year old to acquire
    • Extended Validation
      These are the most expensive option of the bunch
       used by extremely large organizations or organizations that demand a high level of trust by customers (i.e. banks).

Choosing the best SSL Certificates for your needs.

By going to https://www.sslshopper.com/ssl-certificate-wizard.html and answering a few questions, you can get a list of choices based on your needs and preferences.

At BrickStreet Marketing, one of the SSL certificate providers that our website developer, Dave Seedorf, recommends is Namecheap, who partners with Comodo/Sectigo to issue an affordable certificate.

We use Namecheap/Sectigo because together they offer great support, offer extremely reasonable prices, and come with few issues, including an easy installation process.

For our largest client, we use an SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt which was included in the client’s hosting plan. This organization provides free SSL certificates with the same level of encryption as a paid certificate. However, smaller organizations may find Let’s Encrypt somewhat difficult to install and manage if it’s not included in hosting plan, and the certificate must be renewed every 90 days. The renewal process can be automated with a server cron job but often does require some technical know how to setup. (The silver lining to that is because they are renewed so often, they can be more secure than paid certificates).

Upcoming limits on trusted certificates from Apple.

In an effort to improve web security for users, Apple is reducing the maximum allowed lifetimes of TLS server certificates. Starting on September 1, TLS server certificates issued on this day or later must not have a validity period greater than 398 days.

This move by Apple is great as it aims to make the web and its connections to/from visitors more secure as the new certifications will push security updates out sooner rather than later. It does come at the cost of having to pay, renew, and reinstall a new paid SSL every year if you don’t use a free service like Let’s Encrypt for your certifications. However, the security upsides can far outweigh the minimal cost of the SSL, depending on who you purchase your SSL from.

Understanding SSL certificates is important for website trust and for better security and to help protect customers from becoming a victim to scammers. If you would like more information on deciding the best certificate for your needs, contact us at 517-680-7957.