What Is An SSL Certificate And Why Do I Need One
For the past few months, we have been telling our web design clients and prospects about getting SSL certificate for their website and they usually ask us this question: “What is an SSL certificate and what are the advantages of having one?” We believe most people have heard of the term “SSL” but do not know exactly what it does (except that it has something to do with the internet). So we will like to address all these questions regarding SSL certificate in this post and share the knowledge with everyone.
What is SSL certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and an SSL certificate contains small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details.
With an SSL certificate, any information that is transmitted becomes encrypted, making it unreadable for anyone except for the intended server. This makes it nearly impossible for hackers to steal your information. It could be your password or credit card information or basically any important information you wouldn’t want others to know.
How does it look like after you have implemented the SSL certificate?
In short, it is the green padlock icon or “https” labeled in green color on your address bar of your browser for websites that have implemented SSL certificate.
The padlock green icon is used to represent that any data you transmit to the website will be secure. Most large and popular websites have already implemented the SSL certificate.
Why is it important for you?
If you have a website, especially one with e-commerce, SSL is a must for you. It will keep your customer’s information safe and keep their mind at ease with the SSL certificate. Even the browser will let the user knows they are on a secure site.
Starting this year (2017), Google will begin labeling any websites that do not have SSL as “Not secure”. Since 2014, Google has already been hinting us on the importance of having an SSL certificate on your website. If you are using Google Chrome, you should have seen the word “Not secure” at the address bar for websites that do not have SSL certificate but have password field or credit card fields. We strongly encourage everyone to get SSL certificate as eventually, all websites will be labeled as “Not secure” if they do not have SSL certificates. You do not want to alarm your web visitors when they see your website as not secure.
How much does an SSL certificate cost?
There are generally 3 types of SSL certificates and the difference is the amount of information required to validate the owner.
Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificate
The most straightforward validation is the Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificate which only checks if the owner has the right to use a specific domain name. No company identity information is vetted for this. It usually only requires a short amount of time to be issued and may cost anywhere from S$20 to S$100 per year for one domain.
Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificate
The next tier is the Organization Validation (OV) SSL certificate which will check if the owner has the right to use a specific domain name and conduct some vetting of owner’s organization. This SSL certificate gives enhanced visibility by showing who is the organization behind the site. As such, this application requires certain paperwork before these certificates can be issued and hence will take around 7 days to issue. This type of OV SSL certificates can cost anywhere around S$60 to S$150 per year for one domain.
Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate
The highest tier is the Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate which will check if the owner has the right to use a specific domain name and conduct comprehensive vetting of owner’s organization. This SSL certificate gives enhanced visibility by showing who is the organization behind the site. It also gives the green bar that shows on your address bar. This application will require certain paperwork before the certificates can be issued and hence will also take around 7 days to issue. This type of EV SSL certificates will cost anywhere around S$300 to S$600 per year for one domain.
Do take note that the prices indicated are meant for the main domain only. If you require SSL certificate for all your subdomains as well, then you need to get the Wildcard version that will cover an unlimited number of its subdomains which will cost more.
What are the requirements to install the SSL certificate?
In order to install the SSL certificate, your website must have a dedicated IP address. However, for most of the cases, your website is hosted on a basic shared hosting plan to save on the hosting fees. As such, your hosting provider might not be able to help you install the SSL certificate without you having a dedicated IP address.
To resolve this, hosting platforms, like CPanel, have introduced the Server Name Indication (SNI) feature that allows a server to install multiple certificates to the same IP address. If your hosting platform has that and your provider allows you to make use of that, then you can install the SSL certificate without a dedicated IP address.
How do I install SSL certificate?
To install SSL certificate on your server, you must generate a certificate signing request (CSR). This will determine which server will use your certificate and which domain names to be used. Once that is done, you can then request for the SSL certificate. Depending on the validation you are going for, you might need to provide documents stating you are the actual owner of the domain in question. After the validation process, you will be issued an SSL certificate file which you can install on your server.
These steps may seem overwhelming for most users, but don’t worry, most hosting providers are able to assist you with the installation process.
We can guarantee you that in the near future, all websites will be running on SSL certificates. So if you are still not on one, we strongly recommend you to get one now. If there is any questions regarding SSL certificates, you can leave it in the comments below and we will do our best to answer to your questions.