Introduction to SSL Certificates


Jan 2, 2020

Do you own a website? Have you ever thought about the security of things like personal info e.g. credit card details exchanged during online transactions? These questions are essential because of the increase in cybercrimes. Anytime you want to buy a product from online stores, pay for a course or upgrade to get premium services, you should pause and think about the security of the personal details. In this article, you will learn about SSL certificates and how they ensure that data exchanged to and from your website is not disclosed to third parties.

What is an SSL Certificate, and how does it work?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. The certificate digitally binds the connection between a server and a client, thus ensuring a safe exchange of information. It is the backbone of secure connection because every minute, volumes of data are exchanged across networks, and if left unprotected, hackers can access it and manipulate for their benefit.

Most times, when you submit information to a website, it is sent as plain text. In that state, it is vulnerable to attacks, and if a hacker is waiting for such information, he or she can acquire it quickly. The SSL certificate uses two keys; a private and a public key both made through the random generation of numbers. The public key is known by the server and is used to encrypt the message. The private key is used to decrypt the message. If a website is secure, hackers will not be able to obtain the data.

How can you acquire the SSL Certificate?

To secure a website, you need to purchase the certificate from accredited sources, download, and install. Before performing the transaction, you ought to define the purpose of the website and choose a certificate that will offer maximum data protection.

SSL certificates can be classified based on validation levels and the number of secured domains. On validation levels, they fall into three categories as Domain Validated, Organizationally Validated, and Extended Validation; they have similar functionality but offer different security levels. Based on the number of secured domains, they can be classified as single-domain, wild cards, or multi-domains.

The Domain Validated Certificate offers the lowest security level, and as the name suggests, it validates the ownership of the website. It is also the quickest to acquire; a trusted entity that offers and manages the keys, called the Certification Authority, sends an email to the address used to register the website, and after verification, a certificate is provided.

The Organizationally Validated Certificate offers a moderate level of security, more than the one provided by a Domain Validated Certificate. It is suitable for websites that perform minimal transactions. The Certification Authority verifies more details than in the first type; it looks into the presence of the organization, the registration of the domain name, and the location. The certificate has information about the domain name and certified owner.

The Extended Validation Certificate offers the highest security measures, and to acquire it, the Certification Authority must assess the website and organization extensively. It looks into the database, identity, ownership, legal existence, and corporate documents. If you handle sensitive information such as credit and debit card details, legal documents, medical records, and accessibility credentials, this should be your go-to certificate.

You can also use the free SSL Certificate and upgrade later.

How can you know that a website is secure?

There are three simple ways that you can use to determine the security of websites. First, secure sites start with https:// instead of http://. If you download and install the certificate successfully, the URL will automatically change from http:// to https://. Second, there is a padlock on the top left corner of the search tab or the top right, depending on the browser. Lastly, a secure website is flagged as secure on the top left corner using a green font.

What are the advantages of using an SSL Certificate?

The primary reason why an SSL certificate is highly recommended is because of data security. It encrypts information sent across the internet, such as credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and legal documents, by ensuring that only intended parties can access it.

An SSL certificate builds trust with customers. Website users get visual clues about the security of their data and hence trust the owner. Trust makes customers come back to a site countless times and do multiple transactions without fear.

An SSL also increases conversion rates. For an online business, showing people what they need is not enough to convert them to customers. This is because, now more than ever, customers are cautious of the safety of their data. They do not hesitate to close tabs of websites that do not guarantee data safety. Securing the sites is an effective way of capturing their attention.

What are the disadvantages of using an SSL Certificate?

With so many disadvantages, you may be wondering, why can’t all website owners acquire the certificates? The primary reason is cost. They need money for certificates, server resources, and infrastructure for the identity to be verified.


If you wish to take your business online to take advantage of the opportunities, you should secure the website. This may seem like an expensive move, but the benefits surpass the costs.