What exactly can an SSL certificate be?

You might be surprised at how much personal information users share during a web session. Each account registration requires entering personal data (name, date of birth, email address, etc.). Every online purchase requires even more personal data. An SSL certificate helps protect any unwanted access to your sensitive data. So what is a ssl certificate ?

Let's start with the definition of SSL certificate. This is short for: Secure Sockets Layer – a unique digital signature of your website. On some websites, you may see a green, gold, or gray padlock next to the web address. Sometimes a company name is highlighted next to the domain name. It indicates that an SSL certificate is installed on this site and all information is transmitted via the secure SSL protocol.

An SSL certificate proves that domain belongs to a real company. The SSL certificate usually contains the following information:

  • web domain for which it is issued;
  • the legal entity that owns it;
  • physical location of the website owner (country and city);
  • the validity period of the certificate;
  • supplier registration details.

SSL certificate provides an encrypted connection between the user and the site. In other words, the information that users share is protected from possible unauthorized access by: the Internet provider, the network administrator, hackers, etc. How does an SSL certificate work?

  1. You enter the domain name in a web browser (Firefox, Chrome, Opera).
  2. The server sends SSL certificate and public key information.
  3. The browser verifies the information, generates a web session, encrypts it with the public key, and then sends it back.
  4. The server decrypts the session key.
  5. A secure connection is established.

Why do you need an SSL certificate?

If an Accredited SSL Certificate is not installed, all the data you enter on the website can be stolen. The SSL certificate guarantees that hackers and malicious persons will not have access to information that should only be available to authorized third parties (account data and passwords, bank card details, payments, social media accounts, etc.). It confirms that the use of the site is safe, significantly reducing the risk of data leakage, while increasing the reputation of the company using it. This is a very important thing when launching a e-commerce website for online shopping.

The principle behind SSL encryption

A key is the core of any encryption method. It can encrypt and decrypt the transmitted message. Three types of keys are used: public, private, and session keys.

  • The public key encrypts a message. Browsers use this type of key when they need to send user data to servers.
  • The private key decrypts a message. A server uses this type of key when it receives a message from a browser. This key is stored on a server and is never transmitted with a message.
  • The session key encrypts and decrypts messages simultaneously. Browsers generate it for a short period of time while the user is on a website. When the web page tab is closed, the session ends and this key stops working.

Now that everything is clear with its definition and working principles, how exactly can you use SSL certificate? You, as a customer on an e-commerce site, do not have to learn anything about its activation, everything happens automatically. When customers order a product on your website, they enter their credit card details. After the order is processed, the information reaches your web session. At this point, hackers can steal the information (the method is called spoofing attack, or MITM - Man In The Middle). The browser encrypts the credit card number and then sends it to the server. Decryption of this message, which contains credit card data, is only possible using a special key, which is stored on the server. Even if the attacker/hackers manage to access the data, they will not be able to understand it because it is encrypted.

Types of SSL certificates

When choosing a website security certificate, focus on the features specific to your website. Below we have divided the websites into several categories and explained the best licenses for each.

Sites for individuals

Small projects such as personal websites, blogs, specialized forums, etc., can use an SSL certificate for domain validation. This is required when customers create accounts on your website, subscribe to newsletters, pay for courses or other services. It takes an average of 15 minutes to obtain and install this type of certificate, which does not require additional special documents.

For small and medium enterprises

Corporate websites, social networks, online stores, insurance agencies and travel agencies can use an enterprise-validated SSL certificate, which is issued to organizations and legal entities. This is recommended if your business stores and processes personal data. After purchasing the certificate, the issuing center verifies the ownership rights of the web domain and whether the company is legally registered. This process can take up to three days.

For large commercial enterprises

Government organizations, large online stores, car dealers, real estate agencies, banks, investment funds should use SSL certificates with a higher validation extent. They are recommended for digital databases where users store money, securities, contact details, bank details, make payments and upload personal documents.

These certificates are issued only to legal entities and are the most difficult to obtain. The certification center will verify the web domain name, company registration data, contact data and rights to market various products or services. Everything can take up to two weeks. When you access such a website, the company name is highlighted in green font. This means that the company has passed a serious check and is really reliable.

For multiple domains

A multi-domain certificate is suitable for: an internal company of a website, mailing server, properties, a trading network, etc. This type of certificate is recommended for companies that have multiple websites or a site with pages from different subdomains. The price includes three to five domain certifications, but you can increase this number up to 100 if needed. There are three types of certificates for multi-domains: with domain validation, organization validation, or with a green row next to the domain name.

For subdomains

An owner of a multi-page corporate website such as a social network, online store or commercial network should consider an SSL certificate for domains, also known as Wild card. This is recommended for those who want to protect their main domain and all other subdomains at the same time.

How can you find out if a website is safe or not?

Just look at the line where the web address (URL) is. Here you may see a green check mark on the right or left side, depending on the browser you are using. A padlock icon next to the URL indicates that the website is protected and secure. Incidentally, the address starts with "HTTPS" instead of "HTTP" with "S"from Scourse, the whole, Shorsed. If the elements presented above do not exist, that website is not secure. You can also check if a website has a trusted SSL certificate installed using an online tool such as Google Transparency Report.

Follow the examples below to understand when a website is secure and when it isn't:


How it is affected SEO optimization by SSL certificate ?

In 2014, the HTTPS connection became an important influential factor for sites occupying the first positions in Google searches. Websites with SSL certificates gained an advantage during Google searches, regardless of the certificate provider. Even if you decide to install a free SSL certificate as well, Google will take this into account, and you will gain in search rankings.

However, transitioning to HTTPS will not propel your site to the top positions. Only in combination with other features will the SSL certificate positively influence your ranking position. It is not possible to determine exactly how advantageous this factor is because Google's website ranking algorithms are confidential. However, in the situation where two websites have identical features, the one with the SSL certificate will have a noticeable advantage.

Studies show that website owners are in no rush to install SSL certificates. In 2016, only 65% of all existing domains were working without an SSL certificate. Transitioning to HTTPS can be difficult, especially for large company sites. It seems that domain owners prefer to install certificates gradually. You can track the statistics of installed web certificates, globally, by accessing the following address: https://letsencrypt.org/stats/

Photo source: sitechecker.pro