What is an SSL certificate, and why is it important?

  • 10 / 05 / 2024
  • Alicja Graczyk
What is an SSL certificate, and why is it important?

The importance of internet security can’t be overestimated. Nowadays, when so many activities happen online, taking care of your passwords and fragile data while also protecting your computer from bots and cyber attacks is a must. If you happen to be a website owner, you must also ensure the safety of your corner of the web. This is where having knowledge about SSL certificates comes in handy! Join us to learn what the best SSL certificate is and discover which one will be the right fit for you!

source: https://giphy.com/

SSL certificate – definition

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a type of network protocol that was released in 1995 to ensure data security in Internet communication. It’s worth knowing the following SSL types:

  • DV (Domain Validation) is the most basic of all three SSL types, and it usually takes the shortest amount of time to obtain it;
  • OV (Organization Validation) is a more advanced type of certificate because before it’s issued, the Certificate Authority (CA) has to verify the publisher’s right to use the domain;
  • EV (Extended Validation) process involves a thorough verification of the legal identity or location of the publishers, which may take a while. However, this SSL type is highly recommended for websites that collect personal data from users, like e-commerce ones.

If the website has an SSL certificate, a padlock is visible in the address bar, and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is displayed right before the website’s address. You can see what it looks like and where to find it in the image below:

On the other hand, differing by only one letter, HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the primary protocol used to transfer data between a web browser and a website, but (unlike HTTPS) it is not encrypted. Importantly, as of July 2019, Google Chrome marks all HTTP websites as “not secure”.

Difference between TLS and SSL

The very first official release of the SSL certificate took place in 1995. Later, due to some security issues, Netscape Communications Corporation, the creators of this security measure, introduced a few new versions. Although the changes improved the certificate drastically, there was still a lot of room for improvement, which led to the release of the first version of TLS (Transport Layer Security) by the Engineering Task Force (IETF). Importantly, on a basic level – TLS was just an improved version of SSL. To this day, TLS is quite similar to SSL, and the two terms are often used interchangeably and confuse many Internet users trying to explore the subject of web security.

Benefits of having an SSL certificate

  • When a padlock appears in the address bar, users feel more secure as it indicates that some security measure has been implemented to protect their data;
  • The safety of your users’ data is ensured, thanks to a certificate that encrypts it (for example, sensitive information like login details is more secure);
  • An SSL certificate has a positive impact on User Experience (if a website doesn’t implement it, a message may appear that the website is dangerous, which discourages visitors and makes them abandon it);
  • Additionally, thanks to SSL, your website is protected from certain types of cyber attacks;
  • In most cases, an SLL certificate is easy and relatively cheap to obtain.

How much does an SSL certificate cost?

The cost of the certificate is primarily influenced by the type of certificate (DV, OV, EV) and the number of domains that you want to secure. Of course, the lower the certificate level, the relatively cheaper the service. Therefore, prices can range from very low amounts, such as 8$ per year, to as much as 1,000$ per year.

Don’t waste time – make your website secure today!

You can obtain an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA), which is an external organization, a trusted third party that generates and issues SSL certificates. There are several ways to implement such a certificate – one of them is to trust free solutions such as Let’s Encrypt or Cloudflare (which is free of charge assuming you activate a domain on this platform) or paid ones like GoDaddy. Good luck!

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