SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) provides safe and private communication between a website and its visitors’ web browser. Traditionally, it has been used mostly for ecommerce and on pages where sensitive information needed to be transmitted.
But today, more and more sites are using it regardless, which is a good thing considering the amount of cybersecurity threats that are out there and MitM attacks (Man in the Middle).
SSL certificates are obtained through what’s called a Certificate Authority, or CA. And while you might be surprised at the number of CAs there are, your best bet is to stick with the larger, more well-known ones. Some of them will try to take shortcuts and that can put your business at risk.
For example, Google justrecently announced two CAs that they’ll no longer recognize because they didn’t follow the proper protocol and were issuing certificates when they shouldn’t have.
There are different types of certificates for different situations, including:
- Web server authentication certificates
- Domain-validated certificates
- Email certificates
- Extended validation certificates
- Unified Communication certificates (Both UC and SAN)
- Wildcard certificates
- Code signing certificates
This type of certificate is issued based solely on the verification of the business’ domain by checking their WHOIS listing. They’re cheaper than other types of SSL certificates and today there are even free ones (AutoSSL and Let’s Encrypt). They’re also fast and easy to obtain because all they have to do is verify you own the domain. But they don’t provide as much assurance to your visitors and they aren’t as secure.
There are both single domain certificates and wildcard. If you need to secure subdomains, as well as your main domain then you would want a wildcard.
This is what you really want if you have an ecommerce site or gather sensitive data. It will cost more and take more time for approval, but it gives much more security and it’ll visibly turn the address bar in web browsers green. This clearly shows visitors that they’re in a secure environment. You can see the requirements here.
If you want to learn more about SSLs, I recommend this article on ShoutMeLoud.