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Understanding Types of SSL Certificates, Their Validation Process and Points to Consider Before Buying Them

Understanding Types of SSL Certificates, Their Validation Process and Points to Consider Before Buying Them

When someone purchases anything over the internet and pays through online banking or via other payment options like PayPal, 2checkout, etc.,  his/her personal information is transmitted, which if not encrypted, is at particularly high risk. The SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol secures the transmission of  information between a domain name and the visitors. This means that the account information entered by an individual while shopping online should safely arrive on the server of the shop owner without any third party gaining unauthorized access to it.

Also, many of you would’ve noticed a sudden increase in the number of online attacks happening over the web recently.  There are numerous types of attacks like phishing, spamming, eavesdropping etc. than can jeopardize your website, causing an irreversible damage to your online reputation. SSL Certificates not only provide a security shield against such attacks, but also help create an aura of trust and a sense of security in your customers’ mind that you’re a credible organization validated by a proper certification authority and that it’s safe for them to share their data with you. The video below will help you get a detailed idea of how an SSL certificate works, and will likely solve most of your queries:

However, a blind trust in SSL Certificates can be dangerous. A website that displays an SSL certificate should be reliable and recognized by an authorized certificate authority.

Self-Signed SSL does not provide complete protection
There are many self-signed SSL encrypted websites out there that aren’t  safe for secure transmission of your sensitive data. A Self-Signed Certificate is less trustworthy because it is signed by an individual and not by a trusted authority.

  • Such certificates have nothing to do with the identity of the person or organization that actually performed the signing procedure.
  • Self-Signed certificates aren’t trusted by other applications/operating systems. This may lead to authentications errors when a visitor lands on a website.
  • They  use low hash and cipher technologies. Due to this, the security level  implemented by self-signed certificates may not satisfy the current Security Policy etc.
Self Signed Certificate disadvantage

A likely occurrence if you use a Self-Signed Certificate

So, when you buy an SSL certificate for your e-commerce business, always pay attention to two main points:

  • SSL certificates provider – When you decide to purchase SSL certificate for your ecommerce business, you should check the review of certificate provider and examine which company is serious about the security of your data. Also, check some other criteria like whether the IT processes with in the company are  ISO 27001 certified or not.
  • Choose right product – Always remember, expensive ≠ quality. There are various types of SSL certificates available in the competitive market, and not every one of them is right for you. So evaluate your business requirements properly and then so come to a decision as to which certificate can fulfill them best . There are many  SSL wizards out there that can help you with this.

Once you’ve bought an SSL Certificate from a reputed organization, take care of two things:

  • When your certificate is going to expire, your SSL provider will send you a notice for its renewal. You should not be careless about such warnings. Visitors tend to  move away from  websites having expired security certificates. While renewing your certificate your email address or web address should be the same as you had while applying for the  SSL certificate. A continuous ignoring of such warnings can have a negative impact on your business in long time.
  • Buying an SSL certificate is not enough. You must take proper steps to ensure  proper implementation of  the SSL protocol on your  website. Have a look the common errors people do while installing SSL Certificates on their website.

Differences in certificates validation:

There are different processes for examining the authenticity of a website owner’s identity; some authorities do verification via telephone, while some examine the documents of an organization. Without checking or examining the identity, a certificate cannot be issued.  Different types are SSL certificates have different validation processes:

Different types of SSL Certificate validation

Different types of SSL Certificate validation

  • Domain validation certificates: For domain validation, the certification body only checks whether the applicant is the owner of the domain. A message is sent to the  administrative e-mail address of a domain, and it must be acknowledged to confirm ownership. The risk of deception for these certificates are relatively high.
  • Organization Validation certificates: In these cases, additional corporate data, like  name and full address of the organization etc. are thoroughly  checked.

Wrapping Things Up
As I had mentioned in one of my previous articles, SSL is a powerful tool for protecting not only your user’s data, but also their confidence in you. It’s the first thing a user will look for when deciding whether or not to trust a site, but it doesn’t cover all the security issues. It’s just one aspect of a greater effort. SSL protects data during one specific period of time, but that time isn’t the only window of opportunity that an attacker has to strike. Proper installation must be done to ensure that when you employ SSL you don’t render it redundant by neglecting to examine your systems for weaknesses in other key areas. It should never be assumed that a system is secure. A system should be proven to be secure by pro-actively seeking out weaknesses and eliminating them.

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