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Understanding HTTPS, Types of SSL Certificates and Installing a SSL certificate for Microsoft Exchange 2007

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With security risks becoming increasingly rife in the Internet, SSL has become a vital entity to ensure the protection of the organizations. SSL, basically, is a security protocol designed to ensure the authenticity of a website’s integrity and the website’s content.

Now, what SSL does is that it encrypts the data being transmitted between the source and destination, of course, after a secure connection is established between them. Websites involving money transactions and membership procedures, secured with SSL, are protected from cyber crimes very effectively and smoothly.

Ok, SSL protects your websites. So far, so good. But how do visitors or customers of a particular website confirm that it is secured and its safe for them to share their data here?

After having a SSL installed on your website, your URL changes from HTTP to HTTPS. This ‘HTTPS’ in the URL confirms the presence of the SSL security. HTTPS helps you keep hackers away from your website by covering up users’ confidential data from the rest of the world. The video below will help you get better hold of the idea:

Over the years, SSL has undergone many changes like: previously SSL was able to provide just 40 bit of encryption which has now been extended to 256-bit level along with 2048 bit level encryption future proof certificates.

Now there are various types of SSL certificates available. Before going deep down into types of SSL certificates and their uses I would like to tell you that SSL certificates are issued and signed by a trusted third party called Certificate Authority (CA).

Categories of SSL Certificates:

  • Free SSL: Many web hosting companies provide free SSL. If the data on your website is not of utmost importance, you can think of getting this kind of SSL. Else, its a total no-no.
  • Shared SSL: Websites having this kind of SSL act as sub domains of the main web hosting provider and hence share the SSL certificates. What it means is that the shared SSL will not display your domain name but instead your web hosting provider’s.You can use shared SSL certificate in situations where you need secure connection to a server that is not typically seen by the general public. For example, when logging into the administration area of your website.If you own an e-commerce website, a shared SSL is a strict no-no because visitors expect to see your domain in the URL, which as already explained, shared SSL does not display. And if you attempt to use your domain name with the shared certificate, your website may or may not work. Even if it does, the visitors will see the shared SSL warnings (please see the figure below) which will most likely put them off, and they won’t share their credit card or any other confidential with you.
  • Dedicated SSL: Dedicated SSL, for dedicated hosting plans allow customers to choose their domain names. This type of SSL certificates, though costly, are the best ones when it comes to the fulfillment of fully fledged security needs.Ideal for situations when the general public needs to access your website, Dedicated SSLs are the best option for protecting credit card information for e-commerce websites, since customers see your domain name in the URL instead of web hosting provider’s, making them feel comfortable while their data.
A likely occurrence if you use a Free SSL Certificate

Types of SSL Certificates:

Along with the above categories, SSL certificates depending upon the needs can be differentiated into following types:

  • Domain Validation or DV SSL: These types of SSL certificates secure the domain validity of a particular website. Here, the contact info of the website is detailed in the WHOIS database of the website’s domain.
  • Organization Validation or OV SSL: OV SSL, as the name suggests, ensures the authenticity of the website’s business organization along with its physical know how and other web addresses.
  • Extended Validation or EV SSL: Most complex and trusted security validation, EV SSL provides the enhanced authenticity to a particular website/organization. EV SSL shows its uniqueness by changing the color of the website’s address bar in to green.
Different types of SSL Certificate validation

Installing a SSL certificate for Microsoft Exchange 2007:

As far as the installation of SSL certificates is concerned, Microsoft Exchange is the foremost difficult one to be tackled with. Difficult because it demands a great level of case sensitivity as it demands each and every element of information to be entered exactly as it is.

First of all, drag the Microsoft Exchange 2007 program and create a request for the Exchange 2007 certificate, using the Certificate Request Generating tool online. After this, import the Microsoft Exchange 2007 certificate by actually downloading the certificate.cer and copy the certificate’s thumbprint.

After the completion of the above steps, you just need to enable it via a command:

Enable-Exchange Certificate-Thumbprint <thumbprint>-Services “SMTP”, “IIS”

This will enable OW, auto discover and SMTP security. If you want to modify/change the commands for the POP, IMAP, UM or IIS, you can do that. Also make sure that you always check for the SSL certificates updates to avoid the SSL disturbances and expiry dates.

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