What Are Secure Sockets Layer Certificates? The Guide Every Entrepreneur Needs


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If you’re preparing to take your business online, you’ll need to secure your website through an SSL certificate. The digital certificate authenticates your site’s identity and protects customers’ sensitive information by encrypting it.

SSL is a stamp of trust that gives visitors to your website the confidence to provide their personal information or make a purchase. This guide talks about the different types of SSL certificates for small business websites, helps you understand which one is likely to work best for your business, and provides the latest news on SSL providers.

Key takeaways:

  • There are many advantages of purchasing an SSL certificate, including increasing visitor loyalty and sales, keeping your information secure, and helping withsearch engine optimization (SEO).
  • Depending on your budget, your business size, and how many site visitors you expect, you can choose an SSL certificate that works for you.
  • The different types of SSL certificates are Extended Validation (EV), Organizational Validation (OV), and Domain Validation (DV).

What Are the Benefits of Buying a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate?

  • Present a professional face/image. Certification Authorities (CAs) are responsible for issuing SSL certificates to legitimate companies. Stringent validation processes ensure the company owns or has a legal right to use the domain name and that it is a legally accountable entity.
  • Enhances visitor loyalty. If your customers are required to sign in to their account on your site, you need an SSL certificate. Visitors assured their information is safeguarded are more likely to return.
  • Entice more shoppers. Over 60 percent of people worry about security issues when shopping online. Most of today’s internet-savvy buyers will easily abandon a shopping cart if they don’t trust a website. The SSL padlock symbol encourages them to browse your site and buy from you.
  • Drive-up sales. In the retail industry, trust means everything, and it is a big driver of sales. Use a good web host to maximize website speed and uptime, a reputable payments processor to secure your customers’ data effectively, and SSL as part of your security arsenal. Though a top-quality online store provider will offer all the certifications online shoppers usually look for, it is best to have SSL in place.
  • Keep your information safe. SSL encrypts data when sending as well as receiving it. The information you send to website visitors, whether it is a voucher, promotional code, holiday message, or newsletter, will be secure and uncompromised.
  • Helps with SEO. Google has confirmed that HTTPS is good for SEO. Google described HTTPS as having a “very lightweight” signal affecting few searches. But they may strengthen it over time, because Google encourages all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

What Are Your Options for Secure Sockets Layer Certificates?

Extended Validation Certificates

If your website requires customers to enter credit cards or other high-value sensitive information, you must show proof of your website’s identity and encryption quickly. This helps establish trust and generate more transactions of higher value.

The EV SSL certificate appears in the HTTPS web address, and a closed padlock icon indicates an encrypted session. Additionally, the browser address bar turns green. Your company’s name and the CA that authenticated the information appear next to the web address.

Organization Validation Certificates

The CA conducts basic vetting and checks if you have the legal right to use a specific domain. The OV check is not as thorough as the EV SSL certificate. Information about your business is also available to the customers when they check the certification details.

Domain Validation Certificates

With a DV Certificate, the CA only checks your company’s right to use the specific domain and doesn’t vet your business for issuance.

How Do You Determine Which Secure Sockets Layer Certificate Suits Your E-Commerce Site?

The certificate you choose depends on the size of your business and its needs, as well as how many site visitors you expect. Your budget is also an important factor.

DV Certificate for less traffic

If your business generates a low traffic volume, an entry-level DV Certificate would suffice, adequately developing credibility for your site and brand. This level of protection keeps your customers’ login and password details safe by securing your site against malware. The certificate is available at lower price points and issued quickly.

However, note that it is a low-value certificate. If you will be procuring sensitive customer information, buying an SSL Certificate that does more than just provide organizational validation is advisable.

OV Certificate for more visitors

If you’ve just set up shop and expect a decent volume of visitors, but cannot afford to spend big bucks on an SSL certificate for your optimized website, consider the OV Certificate. It will assure customers about the safety of their sensitive information like a credit card, bank account, or PayPal details.

EV Certificate for the most protection

EV SSL offers the highest level of protection, but it is an expensive certificate. As a small business owner with a modest budget, you may not be able to afford this rather high price.

Medium and large enterprises usually use it; however, as SSL’s gold standard, you can invest in one to deliver peace of mind to customers. It is a good option if you expect to scale up quickly or generate high sales volumes. Don’t let less-than-optimal security stand in the way of customer trust and positive word-of-mouth.

Are All Certificate Authorities Trustworthy?

Web browsers trust SSL certificates from CAs, who must follow appropriate validation guidelines before issuing them. Using a rogue certificate, a criminal or a government can act as an intermediary between you and a website, intercepting communications without your knowledge.

Rogue digital certificates have increased in recent years. In 2011, it was discovered that Dutch CA Diginotar servers had been compromised, resulting in the issuance of fraudulent certificates. Among the rogue Google certificates were those the Iranian government had used to spy on political opponents.

Google initiatives

Google has stepped up efforts to tackle rogue certificates by launching the Certificate Transparency program. Under this initiative, users and browsers worldwide will collaborate to develop a near-real-time index of all the certificates seen in the wild to increase the likelihood of rogue certificates being detected.

FAQs About Secure Socket Layer Certificates

What can a Secure Sockets Layer certificate accomplish?

This security protocol provides authentication, privacy, and integrity to web communications.

How can you tell if Secure Sockets Layer encryption is being used on a website?

A secure URL begins with “https” rather than “http.” The “s” in “https” stands for secure, demonstrating that the site is using an SSL certificate.

Is Secure Sockets Layer safe?

SSL secures an internet connection by encrypting data sent between a website and a browser (or between two servers). This prevents hackers from seeing or stealing any information transferred, including personal or financial data.

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