April 23, 2024

What is an SSL Certificate and Why Do We Need It?


We interact with websites every day for carrying out various activities like online shopping, banking transactions, social media engagement and more. However, while we casually surf and transact on the internet, there is one essential security protocol functioning in the backend to keep our data safe – the SSL certificate. Let’s understand what an SSL certificate is and why it is important to have one for a website.

Understanding SSL Certificates
SSL certificate stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a standard security technology for establishing encrypted link between a server and a client. An SSL certificate uses a private key and a digital certificate to authenticate the identity of a website and enables an encrypted connection for transmitting sensitive information like credit card details, login credentials, personal information and more.

When you go to any website with “https://” in the URL instead of regular “http://”, it means that site has implemented an SSL certificate and the connection is secured and encrypted. The lock icon in the address bar of the browser also indicates that the certificate is valid and the identity of the site has been verified by a Certificate Authority (CA). SSL certificates prevent cybercriminals from viewing and stealing sensitive data during transmission over the internet by encoding it in such a way that only the receiver can decode it.

Types of SSL Certificates
There are several types of SSL certificates available for different use cases and website needs:

– Domain Validated (DV): Most basic SSL certificate only validates domain ownership and issues within days at low cost. Provides basic encryption but no organization validation.

– Organization Validated (OV): Provides stronger validation of business through documentation review and issues within 4-5 days. Helps establish customer trust with company details in the certificate.

– Extended Validation (EV): Highest level of SSL with most rigorous vetting process and 3 month issuance time. Displays company name in green address bar for stronger identity verification. Ideal for businesses handling financial transactions.

– Wildcard SSL: Secure multiple subdomains at once like *.domain.com under single certificate. Cost effective for large domains with many subdomains.

– Unified Communications (UC): Meant for securing audio/video meetings, instant messaging and other collaborative tools on a domain.

Choosing the right SSL certificate depends on website type, intended use, brand trust requirements and security needs.

Importance of SSL Certificates
Here are some key reasons why all websites must invest in SSL certificates:

Secure User Data: Sensitive user data like payment info, login credentials, contact details should always be securely encrypted during transmission. An SSL certificate is a basic necessity to protect such confidential online information from cyberthreats.

Brand Trust and Credibility: Customers are cautious about sharing private details on websites without security assurances. Presence of a valid SSL certificate boosts visitor confidence by proving the identity and security standards of the site.

Search Engine Rankings: Major search engines now consider HTTPS implementation as a positive ranking signal. Websites on non-secure HTTP can see losses in search visibility. An SSL helps sites rank higher organically.

Avoid Browser Warnings: Outdated and invalid SSL certificates may cause browsers to display security warnings discouraging site visits. This negatively impacts user experience and engagement. Keeping SSL up-to-date avoids such credibility denting alerts.

PCI Compliance: Merchants handling credit card transactions need to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. PCI mandates the implementation of SSL on all pages where customers enter sensitive payment data.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Many jurisdictions have regulations requiring websites to take reasonable security measures to protect private user data. Failing to implement SSL can result in legal penalties and lawsuits in case of data breaches.

Industry Standards and Best Practices: For any credibility and sustainability in online business, following best security practices is important. Using encrypted HTTPS is now considered an essential online cybersecurity hygiene standard for professional websites.

Choosing an SSL Provider
With the importance of SSL certificate well established, selecting the right certificate provider is key. Look for providers known for reliability, uptime support, quick issuance and renewal, competitive prices, and reputation in the industry. Some top SSL certificate providers are:

– Let’s Encrypt: Free, non-profit option, great for small personal projects but has limitations for commercial websites.

– Comodo: Wide range of certificates at affordable prices with extra layer of validation. Popular renewing option.

– GeoTrust: SSL from trusted global brand, ideal for businesses handling financial data securely.

– DigiCert: Valuable extended warranties, fast issuance, partner to major hosting platforms for easy installation.

– GlobalSign: Customizable solutions, worldwide SSL expertise, reputation for quality customer service.

Proper SSL implementation and maintenance are non-negotiable aspects of any secure website development. Choosing the best certificate provider sets you up for a privacy-centric online presence that protects user trust and satisfaction in the long run.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it