Most of us use search engines on a regular basis and you have probably seen some of the strongly worded messages that browsers display when a website is deemed to be collecting data yet has no SSL certificate in place.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL is a standard security protocol which establishes encrypted links between a web server and a browser, thereby ensuring that all communication that happens between a web server and browser(s) remains encrypted and hence private. SSL Certificate is today an industry standard that is used by millions of websites worldwide to protect all communication and data that's transmitted online through the websites.

Our clients often ask us which certificate they should purchase, DV, OV, EV or Wildcard. The answer will depend on what you are looking to achieve in terms of securing your website.

Let us look at the DV certificate. They are verified using only the domain name. Typically, the Certificate Authority exchanges confirmation email with an address listed in the domain’s WHOIS record. Alternatively, the CA provides a verification file which the owner places on the website to be protected. Either method confirms that the domain is controlled by the party requesting the certificate.

The OV is Organisationally Validated and takes longer to issue as the information about the organisation has to be checked and verified as well as checking the domain is also correct. For this type, the CA will verify the actual business that is attempting to get the certificat. The organisation’s name is also listed in the certificate, giving added trust that both the website and the company are reputable. OVs are usually used by corporations, governments and other entities that want to provide an extra layer of confidence to their visitors.

The final version is EV which stands for Extended Validation. These provide the maximum amount of trust to visitors, and also require the most effort by the Certificate Authority to validate. Per guidelines set by the CA/Browser Forum, extra documentation must be provided to issue an EV certificate (as described in EV SSL Requirements). As in the OV, the EV lists the company name in the certificate itself, However, a fully validated EV certificate will also show the name of the company or organisation in the address bar itself, and the address bar is displayed in green. This is an immediate, visual way that viewers can know that extra steps were taken to confirm the site they’re visiting – which is why most large companies and organisations choose EV certificates.

Why do I need a certificate?

SSL encrypts information sent between your website and a visitor's web browser so that it cannot be read as it is sent across the internet.

SSL stands for secure sockets layer (you never know, it might come up in a quiz sometime), and it's most commonly used when websites request sensitive information from a visitor, like personal information, a password or credit card number.

If you've ever bought anything online, you've probably used SSL without realising it. Most web browsers display a padlock when you're viewing a site over SSL, so you know the connection is secure.

The address of pages viewed over SSL also normally starts https://, instead of http://.

When you buy SSL, you're actually buying an SSL certificate. This is issued by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) and identifies your site or business. You can then install this onto your domain name in order to encrypt pages on your website.

An SSL certificate is recommended if you are requesting customer’s information through your website.

How much do they cost?

This will depend where you purchase from and what benefits are also provided. Comparing certicates can be a hard task as many suppliers provide bolt-on services to justify the high costs from some providers. Many of the extras may be services that you will never use but are still paying for. At 3cellhosting we can provide you with Symantec issued certificates at value for money prices, often cheaper than buying direct from Symantec. Our certificates start from just £24.95 a year.

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