SSL security: How to purchase a certificate that’s right your site

As hackers and online malicious actors become more crafty, SSL security is more vital than ever. That’s why everyone should purchase a certificate for their site ASAP. But how do you know what kind of SSL is right for you?

Find out by reading this informational, three-step guide!

  • Define your web property

Before you even start looking at the selection of SSL certificates on offer, you’ll first need to pinpoint your needs. Trust us — this will make things a lot easier. This way, you’ll know what you need and don’t need right off the bat, instead of becoming overwhelmed by all the different kinds of certificates on offer. Ask yourself:

  • Do you have one domain or multiple domains?
  • Do you have any subdomains? 
  • Do you plan on creating subdomains in the future?
  • Does your site take transactions?
  • Does your site have any login pages?
  • Does your site have forms or request personal information from people?

Once you are sure of the size and scope of your website, it will be easier to determine the type of SSL you need.

  • Familiarize yourself with the main SSL types

There are basically three types of SSL certificates available: Single-domain certificates, Multidomain certificates, and Wildcard certificates. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory, except for Wildcard certificates.

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

  • Single-domain SSLs: Secures one website
  • Multidomain SSLs: Secures multiple websites
  • Wildcard SSLs: Secures one domain and numerous subdomains of one level linked to it. For example, say you wanted to connect a separate blog to your website “mywebsite.com”, it would be “blog.mywebsite.com”. The great thing about a Wildcard SSL is that you don’t even need to have any subdomains yet when you purchase it. Any subdomains you create after the fact will be automatically secured.

By now, you probably have a good idea of the SSL type you want. Huzzah! But now, you’ll need to think about the validation level you want.

  • Decide on your preferred validation level

Validation level refers to the extent of background checks the issuing Certificate Authority (CA) will perform on you and/or your company before you get your SSL. This is where the type of website you have becomes essential. The more extensive the background checks, the more information available to website users when they click on the address bar padlock symbol when they visit your site. 

A good rule of thumb is the more information you request your user (for example, making purchases or handing over personal data), the higher the validation level you should opt for. Let’s take a look at each validation level:

  • Domain validation (DV): The lowest level of assurance, CAs will merely check that you have access to the email address associated with the website you want to secure. 
  • Organization validation (OV): More extensive than DV, the CA will confirm the requester’s identity and perform basic business checks. More information about the website owner will appear in the certificate.
  • Extended validation (EV): The most thorough of the validation levels, the CA will do more extensive company checks, including checking government records. More information, including the company name, will appear in the certificate.

Conclusion

When it comes to SSL and purchasing a certificate, it mostly boils down to defining your website type and choosing accordingly. Fortunately, all SSL certificates on the market have the same potential encryption strength, so that’s not something you need to worry about. When it comes to the validation level, always pick the one that will serve your users the most peace of mind.

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