What is SSL?
SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is a security protocol that governs communication between a web browser and a web server. The goal is to ensure that data sent to/from either entity remains encrypted against those who are not authorized to view the information.
An SSL certificate establishes that a website is using the SSL protocol since it is necessary to create the secure connection. Visitors to the website can see if the website is secured or not based on the presence of a lock icon in the URL/address bar.
Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?
Essentially, SSL certificates aid in the securing of your customers’ personal information.
Some of the data that you need to protect include all identifying information (name, address, phone numbers) and sensitive data (such as billing information, credit card numbers, and the like).
SSL Certificates and E-Commerce Websites
SSL certificates are important for all sites, but they are especially necessary for e-commerce ones, who handle information like billing addresses and payment information.
This is an example of a secure connection presented in your URL bar.
Obviously, people do not want their information (especially their payment information) compromised — by not securing these details, you run the risk of a data breach, leading to declined sales as consumers are loath to do business with untrustworthy vendors.
Impacts PCI Compliance and SEO
Furthermore, SSL is a requirement if you want to remain in compliance with the rules set out by regulatory institutions and committees (such as the PCI Security Standards Council, which works with multiple, major credit card companies).
Finally, SEO, which is a major concern for e-commerce sites (the fewer the people who find your site, the fewer sales you make) — without an SSL certificate, your site is flagged as unsecured, leading to worse rankings.
How SSL Certificates Work With Browsers — 10-Step Breakdown
RapidSSL certificates work with a web server and the user’s browser in order to provide a safe environment. The following 10 step run-through should make it easier to understand. This is a non-technical explanation to make it simpler.
- Web browser attempts connection to an SSL secured web server
- Identification is requested by the browser
- A copy of the SSL certificate is sent by the server
- The browser receives SSL certificate
- The browser proceeds to check the certificate
- Trust is established
- The browser creates a connection with the server
- The server returns a signed agreement to start an SSL session
- SSL session begins
- Encrypted data is shared between the two parties
This Google video (above) provides a simple walk-through of how HTTPS and SSL work.
RapidSSL is a digital Certificate Authority that was established in 2003. The company is a subsidiary of GeoTrust Inc, and it’s famous for offering low-cost SSL certificates.
RapidSSL offers a few standard features for all their digital certificates. For example, every SSL certificate that this company offers is recognized by 99% of all phone and PC browsers.
Let’s take a look at what 10 features RapidSSL has to offer, which make it a competitive SSL provider in our books:
- Instantly issued digitally
- Domain level validation
- WildCard SSL
- Extended validation certificates
- Rapid self-sign certificates
- Competitive costs as opposed to some premium SSL providers
- Backed by a free warranty period
- Trusted subsidiary in the form of GeoTrust
- 24/7 support via web
- 30-day money back guarantee
Digitally Issued – Instantly
All SSLs are also issued online and within minutes. Once you sign up, RapidSSL will automatically send an email to the admin listed with the registrar for the provided domain. All you have to do is click the confirmation email and your SSL certificate will be issued.
Another standard feature that RapidSSL offers is their no questions asked money-back guarantee. This service allows you to demand a refund after 30 days if you are not satisfied with the level of service provided.
Try RapidSSL. 30-day money-back guarantee. Get started now
Types of Certificates
When it comes to certificate types, RapidSSL offers the following options:
Domain Level Validation
This SSL certificate can only secure one domain name, subdomain, or hostname. That means that if you purchase a certificate for http://example.com, it will not secure http://subdomain.example.com. Once installed, your website will display the secure padlock logo next to the address.
You can also upload the Seal of SSL certificate on your website.
The WildCard SSL offers all features included in the Domain Level Validation digital certificate. As an added bonus, you will be able to secure unlimited sub-domains with this option. You will get protection for http://example.com *and* http://subdomain.example.com. Therefore, the WildCard SSL is ideal for site owners that want to encrypt more than one webpage.
Whether you choose a single-domain or a wildcard, certificate depends on the number of domains/subdomains you need to be secured.
Extended Validation (EV) Certificates
An SSL certificate secures the domain, but you can purchase an extended validation (EV) certificate that will also verify that the business or entity behind the website is legitimate as well.
Depending on how well-known your business is and the likelihood that someone will act as your doppelganger, you may want to opt for an EV certificate.
The RapidSSL site provides a satisfying amount of clear documentation. Their YouTube channel presents a handful of how-to videos, like this one.
Self-Signed Certificates vs RapidSSL-Signed Certificates
Self-signed certificates are those that are signed by you, the person creating and issuing it. Such certificates will offer you and your visitors’ encryption similar to that offered by a certificate issued by a certificate authority (CA), such as RapidSSL.
||Certificate Authority-Signed SSL
|Level of Security
||Uncertified source of certification, therefore limited trust
||Trusted and certified by an authoritative body, therefore increased customer trust
|Handling Payment Data
||Moderate to Expensive
However, there are reasons to purchase a certificate signed by RapidSSL (or similar certificate authority). The biggest reason for this is that a self-signed certificate is less secure and offers fewer options for you in the event that your website becomes compromised.
Furthermore, many Certificate Authorities offer very useful extras, such as warranties, easy management of multiple certificates, and tools to make installation of your certificates easier.
How to Install Your SSL Certificate
Many control panels come with functionality to make it easy for you to install your SSL certificate. The steps to do so, generally speaking, are:
- Download your certificate
- Paste your certificate into the appropriate field in your control panel
- Activate your certificate (usually done via a provided wizard)
RapidSSL provides certificates in a standardized format, so how hard or how easy your installation is dependent mostly on the control panel you are using with your web hosting.
Do I Get Any Extras?
RapidSSL leaves out nothing when it comes to site encryption services. They even throw in a few extra features to give customers more value for their money. For example, every SSL certificate you get from this company comes with a warranty worth $10,000.
These funds are claimable as reimbursement if your website suffers financial loss due to RapidSSL’s negligence while relying on their digital certificates.
The fact that RapidSSL offers discounts on renewal is also another bonus that’s worth mentioning. They offer a switch enrollment program, which extends the validity of your current unexpired SSL certificate by 12-months at no additional cost if it was issued by Comodo, GoDaddy or GlobalSign.
High Level of Encryption to Keep Your Site Safe
Excellent security is one of the strong suits of RapidSSL. This certificate authority issues SSL certificates with a 256-bit encryption key, which means you can secure your website with digital certificates that surpass the industry standard.
The fact that RapidSSL offers $10,000 worth of financial protection goes to show the level of confidence that they have with their security certificates.
What Kind of Customer Support Does RapidSSL Offer?
Customer support is only available during limited business hours but RapidSSL offers a toll-free phone number, as well as email and live chat support.
Customers can also resolve problems without contact support by simply visiting the online support center which comes replete with video tutorials, troubleshooting guides, “how to” articles and answers to frequently asked questions.
If you’re looking for a budget SSL provider, RapidSSL is one of the best options on the market. Apart from offering low priced SSL certificates, RapidSSL issues 256-bit digital certificates in minutes, a simple online application process and excellent customer support.
Purchase options offered by RapidSSL.
If you’re looking for EV (extended validation) or company validated certificates, then you are better off with other SSL providers such as Thawte and Symantec.
Rapid SSL offers digital certificates with the highest level of encryption (256-bit keys).
The entry-level SSL is a low-cost option.
Users can take advantage of the switch enrollment program to get an additional 12-months validity of their current SSL issued by other select competitors.
All SSL certificates are backed by a 30-day money back guarantee and $10,000 warranty that offers financial protection.
No paperwork is involved when applying for SSL certificates as everything is processed online.
SSL Certificates are issued within minutes of application.
Comprehensive customer support.
Limited SSL certificate options (only WildCard and domain level validation options are available).
We’ve covered a lot. Here’s a summary of pros and cons.
Try RapidSSL. 30-day money-back guarantee. Get started now