During the initial stages of the World Wide Web, all requests and responses to websites were sent in “plain text.” This rendered them potentially readable by digital interceptors, making the transmission of passwords, credit card details, and other private and sensitive data unsafe. 

Netscape created the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) cryptographic protocol for web content delivery and connection authentication in the mid-1990s in order to facilitate e-commerce and the online transfer of sensitive data.

Although the two protocols have different security features, fundamental algorithms, and supported ports, they both work essentially the same way—that is, by utilizing a digital technology known as an SSL certificate. 

What is a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate?

An SSL certificate is a type of digital certificate that allows a website and a browser to communicate securely by verifying the website’s identity.

An SSL certificate serves as a key to enable robust encryption as well as a passport to confirm the identity of the site owner who requires SSL support.

Certificate Authorities, or CAs, are the entities that provide SSL certificates. A CA is a reliable company that ensures a website’s authenticity. There are just a few hundred certificate authorities in the world, and the makers of operating systems and web browsers analyze them before listing them as trusted roots. In accordance with accepted industry standards, the CA confirms the certificate requester’s details—including site ownership, name, address, and more—before granting a certificate. 

The real SSL certificate is a little digital file that is installed on the TLS-supporting server and shared with other users. It usually weighs a few kilobytes. This file includes:

  • The website’s domain name for which the certificate was obtained
  • The entity that received the certificate (the certificate holder)
  • The digital signature of the CA
  • Any subdomains connected to it
  • The dates of certificate issuance and expiration 
  • The public key (note: No sharing of the secret key is done)

You can tell you have a secure TLS connection when you use a browser to connect to a URL that starts with “https” or when you see the little padlock in the address bar of the browser, which is confirmed by an SSL certificate that was given by a CA.

How does an SSL certificate work?

Data is encrypted while it is in transit via an SSL certificate. This guarantees that any information exchanged between a web browser and a website cannot be read by a third party.

Two certificates—one public and one private—are necessary for secure communication over TLS in order to establish the secure connection. 

When a browser tries to connect to a TLS-secured website, a brief back-and-forth exchange known as a “handshake” is required to start the conversation. This is how you shake hands:

  1. The SSL-secured website (server) is accessed by the client, which is the browser.
  2. The server is asked to identify itself by the client.
  3. An image of the SSL certificate for the server is delivered.
  4. If the SSL certificate passes the client’s trustworthiness check, the client notifies the server.
  5. The SSL-encrypted session is started by the server by initiating a digitally signed agreement.
  6. There is now safe and unrestricted transit of encrypted data between the browser and the server.

Using public and private keys, asymmetric encryption is used for the first handshake. Following validation, the client and server trade session-only temporary private keys. 

Types of SSL certificates

ssl

Domain Validated (DV) Certificate

The sole automated identity verification required for a DV certificate is to confirm that the owner is in charge of the domain or subdomain. Usually, email is used to do this.

The most affordable option to get a certificate is through DV, which accounts for the majority of free certificates. It does Blogs, personal websites, small enterprises, and any other website with minimal security requirements can all benefit from DV certifications. 

Organization Validated (OV) Certificate

A stronger assurance of the bearer’s identity is provided by an OV certificate. To acquire an OV certificate, the buyer needs to clear nine validation processes.

This is a mid-level business certificate, and the certification authority (CA) that is granting it attests to the legitimacy and standing of the associated organization. For companies that don’t use their website for online banking or shopping, this is an excellent strategy.

Extended Validated (EV) Certificate

The greatest level of identity verification is represented by an EV certificate, which is best suited for businesses, financial institutions, and e-commerce websites. The end user sees extra company information behind the padlock in addition to a green browser bar, which indicates the highest level of authentication.

What if you need to secure multiple domains?

A single domain name is protected by using a basic SSL certificate. In order to save money and streamline administration, many businesses want to secure several subdomains under a single certificate (such as mail.example.com and shop.example.com).

A wildcard SSL certificate, which secures the main domain and several “subject alternative names” (SANs, which stand for the subdomains), can be used to achieve this. Multiple domain certificates, which enable SANs to serve multiple domains, can also be added.

How to get an SSL certificate

Determine the level of security required.

as EV, OV, or DV. Evaluate the finances and needs of your organization before deciding on the proper degree of identity verification.

Decide subdomains and domains to be supported.

You might not need to get a wildcard certificate if you simply have one.

Choose a certificate authority/provider.

For simpler requirements, all you might have to do is get in touch with your web server and ask for a free certificate. A paid partnership with a certificate authority is required for multi-domain and EV certifications. Compare prices.

Request the certificate from the chosen provider.

Usually, this entails completing online paperwork and sending money.

Verify domain ownership and other criteria.

The CA will get in touch with you to confirm the details you provided in your application; at the very least, they will need an email proving who owns the domain.

Obtain and install the certificate

Your web platform and the CA you select will have a big impact on this. Three keys are typically downloaded in a ZIP file: a certificate authority bundle, the private key, and the public key. Use Tools for installing certificates are typically included in the management dashboard of your website if you are using a commercial web host.

Configure other apps to use the certificate

You must set up additional apps on your servers to use your certificate and the TLS protocol if you plan to offer SSL connections to them (such as WordPress, email, etc.).

Confirm your secure connection is working.

Connect to a secure connection before accessing your website or other apps. After clicking the padlock, check the data that appears in your browser.

Submit your site(s) to search engines

Your old “http” sites are not the same as your new “https” sites. In the event that your users depend on search engines to locate you, you will have to resubmit your updated https URLs for indexation to those engines.

FAQ

How does an SSL certificate operate, and what is it?

Small digital files called SSL certificates hold details about a website’s domain name, registration location, owner, registration date, and any related subdomains.

What does an SSL certificate serve to accomplish?

When a sender and recipient establish a secure connection, an SSL certificate can ensure that the distant connection is authentic and that no one is able to view or alter the transmitted content. Ensuring the protection of sensitive data, such as credit card details, requires doing this.

In addition, search engine results for untrusted websites rank lower, making it exceedingly challenging to drive people to your website without an SSL.

How can I obtain a certificate for SSL?

  • Establish the necessary level of security.
  • Select a certificate provider or authority.
  • Ask the selected supplier for the certificate.
  • Check who owns the domain and other details.
  • Acquire and set up the certification.

Which SSL certificate types are there?

  • Validated Domain (DV) Certificate
  • Certificate of Organization Validation (OV)
  • Validated Extended (EV) Certificate

Conclusion

SSL certificates are essential in 2024 to safeguard your website and your users, not merely a great practice. A website owner must have an SSL certificate since internet security and privacy are becoming more and more important.

If you’re looking for an e-commerce development business that can help you with developing a mobile app, you should give Appic Softwares some thought. We have a talented development team available to help you with any and all of your requirements.

So why are you acting cautiously?

Give us a call right now!