Website security certificates, also known as SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates, are tiny data files that put an organization’s details under digital lock and key. When installed on a website, they establish a secure connection from the web server to the user’s browser.
SSL certificates used on ecommerce sites allow safe credit card transactions, logins and data transfer, as well as secure browsing on social media platforms. Secure sites are typically denoted with https protocol in the website address and not http, and often a padlock or a green bar will appear in the browser bar as well. But SSL isn’t just recommended for ecommerce.
Types of Website Certificates
With the growth of transactional websites over the last several years, the need for SSL certificates has increased, and their use has expanded as well. Some businesses use them to ensure confidentiality, and encryption affords them that. Others seek to increase trust in their business, and using a website certificate gives them greater trust and legitimacy.
The most popular and inexpensive website certificates are single SSL. Single SSL is a good choice for established organizations wanting to better secure their sites. They are also a smart choice for securing small business websites.
Single certificates only protect a single sub-domain of a site. For example, if your website’s URL was www.domainexample.com, a single certificate would cover it, but it wouldn’t protect sub-domain(s) on the site such as blog.domainexample.com or mail.domainexample.com.
Shared (Multi-domain) Certificates and Wildcard Certificates
Shared SSL certificates are a less expensive way to secure more than one website on the same server, and support multiple sites that share an IP address. This is a good choice if you need your connection encrypted while avoiding name mismatch errors.
Wildcard SSL enables encryption on an unlimited number of subdomains while using a single certificate. This means you could use it for any domain of the variety *.domainexample.com, keeping your costs much lower. For instance, store.domainexample.com would be covered in addition to domainexample.com and finance.domainexample.com.
Wildcard certificates have drawbacks. Like shared certificates, use only one certificate and private key on sites, meaning they’re more vulnerable. Also, some mobile device operations systems don’t recognize the wildcard (*) character, which can create compatibility issues.
A custom SSL certificate specific to your business helps to avoid browser warnings. A custom certificate includes unique public/private encryption for the site. This type of SSL is inherent to large ecommerce sites, like Amazon.
Extended validation (EV) certificates are those which give a website a thorough vetting. For instance, they verify physical, legal and operational existence and verify that the identity matches official records. EV SSL certificates currently offer the highest level of security among SSL certificates.
EV SSL certificates can be purchased for any type of business, including large corporations, small companies, non-profits and even government organizations. These certificates include an annual audit to maintain the requisite level of integrity. EV certificates are considerably more expensive than single or wildcard certificates. There are also other levels of SSL certificates such as Domain Validation (DV) and Organizational Validation (OV).
Website security is an imperative for business. Your site will be more trusted and far more secure, with a security certificate. The type which is best for your business depends on the size of your business and how your site will be used.