Before we get started with looking at the different SSL Certificates and how to choose the right one for your website, let’s first clear up some of the jargon.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is encryption security protecting data transfer on websites. It’s the same thing as HTTPS (the padlock you see in your browser). And TLS (Transport Layer Security) is just a newer form of SSL. The differences are technical and very minor, but TLS does have a stronger encryption algorithm which is why all our SSL Certificates are TLS.
Now let’s compare the different SSL products. Firstly, all reputable SSL Certificates have the same reliable encryption strength. The easiest and clearest way to distinguish SSLs is to look at website needs.
How Big Is Your Business?
When it comes to what a single SSL Certificate covers, these are your three main choices:
Single domain (e.g. brand.com) – you have one website.
Wildcard – single domain plus unlimited sub-domains (e.g. blog.brand.com, press.brand.com, charity.brand.com) – you have one website brand, but you have lots of projects or platform urls that you want ranking in search results.
Multi-Domain – you have many different website brands, so you want to cover a number of domains and/or sub-domains.
Do You Need SSL Protection Super Fast?
If you’ve launched a new website and need an SSL Certificate immediately because you don’t want Google flagging it as ‘Not secure’, the fastest would be a Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificate. It only takes a couple of minutes, whereas other types of SSLs can take a few days.
You’ll place your order, then get an automated email from the Certificate Authority with a CSR (Certificate Signing Request). This involves the CA emailing you using either your WhoIs listing or one of five pre-approved email addresses to verify your domain control.
Another reason for wanting a Domain Validated SSL is it doesn’t require all kinds of official paperwork. For example, if you just have a personal blog to share your hobby interests instead of a full-time business, a DV SSL is perfect for your needs.
What Kind of Customer Data Does Your Site Handle?
Owners of websites where customers or members are supplying their personal details (such as a busy ecommerce site, online accounting service, or private forum), tend to choose SSL Certificates that have more than just their domain validated. The main reason for wanting stronger authentication is customer trust i.e. people will be more at ease sharing their sensitive information with legitimate businesses.
Organization Validation (OV) SSLs involve added legitimacy checks by the Certificate Authority. The main rule is the website needs to prove they’re listed in a Qualified Independent Information source. This lets people know they’re dealing with an established business.
Extended Validation (EV) SSLs entail even more legitimacy checks by the Certificate Authority. Most importantly, the company needs to show paperwork demonstrating they’re officially registered with their local government i.e. incorporation, such as Inc or LLC. EV Certificates used to be distinguished by a green bar with the company name in browsers, but most recently. not all browsers show the green bar.
The bottom line is that if a person clicks on the HTTPS padlock in their browser and follows the Certificate information trail, they will be able to verify what type of SSL validation protects the website. People who are being asked to give sensitive information may only feel comfortable doing this on a website that is an established business with a public listing (OV), or a legally registered company (EV).
There’s a wide range of SSL products to choose from. But by asking yourself these three main questions, you can easily narrow down your search to find the one that’s right for you:
How many website domains and/or sub-domains do I need to cover?
Do I need an SSL Certificate within minutes and without needing official business paperwork?
Am I asking my customers for sensitive information, and how strongly do they need to trust my business to share their data on my website?