Posted: 08-27-22 06:51:26 pm
SSL is used to secure information between a web visitor and the site. It is commonly used on e-commerce sites and pages that require users to submit personal or credit card information.
Since researchers predict e-commerce will make up 17 percent of all U.S. retail sales by 2022, there is a growing need for both web users and webmasters to keep sites secure.
By ensuring that all data passed between the two parties remains private and secure, SSL encryption can help prevent hackers from stealing private information such as:
Without a secure connection, the above data can become susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, among other cyberattacks.
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SSL certificates work by establishing an encrypted connection between a web browser and a server. The encrypted data is impossible to read without a secret key, called a decryption key.
When your browser tries to connect to a secure website, several steps take place in only a few milliseconds:
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This type of certificate has the highest level of security and is a must-have for websites that handle sensitive information. In order to issue an EV certificate, a neutral third-party certificate authority (CA) performs an enhanced review of the applicant to increase the level of confidence in the business. Sites using EV certificates were previously identifiable by green text in the address bar but now only display a padlock.
OV certificates have a moderate level of trust and are a good option for public-facing websites that deal with less sensitive transactions. This certificate requires organizations to prove domain ownership and provide documentation that the business is legally registered. OV-secured sites also display a padlock.
DV certificates only verify who owns the site. Be aware that DV certificates have the lowest level of trust and are commonly used by cybercriminals because they are easy to obtain and can make a website appear more secure than it is. Like EV- and OV-secured sites, DV-secured sites display a padlock. If you’d like to see whether a site is DV-secured, click the padlock icon and read the certificate details. Many malicious DV-secured sites do not offer site details.
SSL certificates may also be referred to by other names, such as:
These certificates mainly refer to how many domains are registered under one certificate and can be purchased either as EV, DV, or OV certificates. The level of trust associated with each certificate will vary accordingly.
Considering over half of all consumers have experienced cybercrime, knowing how to tell whether a site is secured with an SSL certificate can help ease safety concerns.
Whether a site is secured with an EV, DV, or OV certificate, secure sites will display:
Previously, sites secured with an EV certificate displayed the company’s name in the address bar in green text. As of 2019, most major browsers, including Chrome and Firefox, have removed this indicator. Instead, browsers now display a notification if your connection is not private, citing that SSL certificates are now the norm.
Now that you know what an SSL certificate is, the three main types, and that DV-enabled sites pose a risk for online scams, it’s important to learn how to reduce your exposure while shopping or performing other sensitive transactions online.
To help ensure your online session is secure, follow these five steps:
As more consumers continue to shop online, cyber risks continue to evolve. Understanding the types of SSL certificates to look for, what makes a safe site, and the potential risks of online shopping can help consumers avoid online scams and protect their sensitive data from cybercriminals.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about SSL certificates.
An SSL connection is encrypted communication between a web browser and a server. The connection is established through sharing a secret decryption key.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a cryptographic protocol to keep shared data between a web server and browser secure.
SSL certificates help establish a server’s identity, domain ownership, and company details. They create trust with users by verifying that websites used to track finances and make online purchases are secure and legitimate.
An HTTPS address represents an encrypted connection, while an HTTP address is not encrypted. An SSL certificate enables the encrypted connection present in the HTTPS address, and the extra “s” stands for “secure.”
Yes, some SSL certificates can be used on multiple domains or servers. However, some SSL certificate issuers license on a per-server basis, so check your terms and conditions.
When an SSL certificate expires, a browser and server will no longer be able to communicate with a secure, encrypted connection. Data will be sent in plaintext, leaving it susceptible to cyberattacks.
SSL certificates must be issued by valid certificate authorities (CAs). CAs will ask for different documentation depending on whether an applicant is seeking an EV, OV, or DV certificate.
The average price for an SSL certificate is about $70 annually, but prices vary widely. You can spend anywhere from $5–$1,000 per year depending on your site’s security needs.
Yes, nonprofit CA organizations offer free SSL certificates. However, there are often downsides to using a free certificate vs. a paid one. For example, paid certificates can remain valid for up to two years, but a free certificate may need to be renewed every 90 days.
SSL certificates may include:
1 Domain & *.domain.com Wildcard + subs
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