Types of SSL Certificates: Which One Should You Pick
Types of SSL Certificates: Which One Should You Pick
Types of SSL Certificates: Which One Should You Pick

Types of SSL Certificates: Which One Should You Pick?

In today’s era, ensuring the security of your website is not just a priority; it’s a necessity.

And especially with cyber threats looming large, selecting the right SSL certificate has become increasingly crucial. However, the multitude of options available can often lead to confusion.

Read on as we take you through the various types of SSL certificates to help you make an informed decision for your website’s security needs.

What Is SSL?

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a foundational element of online security. It functions as a cryptographic protocol. Its primary role is safeguarding data transmission between two machines by employing encryption.

Without SSL, sensitive information like passwords and credit card details can be stolen. This makes SSL significant for any website handling personal data. That’s why almost every website nowadays has an SSL certificate—it’s like having a secure lock to protect your information.

What Is an SSL Certificate?


An SSL certificate binds a cryptographic key to an organization’s identity. For instance, by associating it with a domain name, you can secure your website and protect user-entered sensitive information.

When activated, your website’s URL shifts from HTTP to HTTPS, accompanied by a reassuring padlock icon. This signals the users that your site is secure and trustworthy. Besides offering security, even search engines like Google reward sites with SSL certificates and enhance their search rankings.

Different Types of SSL Certificates

SSL or TLS certificates authenticate a website’s identity. Their primary function is to secure connections between web servers and browsers. SSL certificates differ from each other based on the level of authentication provided by the Certificate Authority. The main types of SSL certificates, based on their validation level, are:

  • Extended Validation
  • Organization Validation
  • Domain Validation

Each type requires varying levels of documentation and follows specific Baseline Requirements for verification by the CA.

Variations of SSL Certificates:

  • Single Domain: Secures one domain.
  • Multi-Domain: Secures multiple domains.
  • Wildcard: Secures one domain and unlimited subdomains.
  • Unified Communications: Designed for Microsoft Exchange and Office Communications environments.

Benefits of SSL Certificates

Enabling an SSL certificate on your website offers several advantages:

1.  Enhances Security

SSL certificates ensure that a level of verification is completed. It confirms that your business owns the domain. This verification process by the certificate vendor enhances trust and encrypts sensitive information shared by users on your site.

2.  Boosts User Trust

Sites without SSL certificates are flagged as insecure by web browsers, displaying a red “NOT SECURE” warning to visitors. This can lead to users leaving your site immediately. SSL certificates prevent these warnings and encourage trust among visitors.

3.  Higher Search Engine Ranking

Google considers different types of certificates (SSL) as a ranking factor for search results. Websites with SSL support or HTTPS benefit from improved security and better user experience.

4.  Reduces Bounce Rate

SSL certificates can reduce your site’s bounce rate. They make your visitors feel secure. The absence of Google’s red warning encourages users to stay longer, which enhances the chances of lead conversions.

Different Types of SSL Certificates to Explore

Modern websites often have complex structures, and SSL certificate variations are available to secure different configurations:

1.  Single Domain SSL Certificates


A single-domain SSL certificate secures one specific domain and does not extend its security provision to associated sub-domains. It includes the WWW and non-WWW versions. It can also secure a single subdomain and is available in Domain Validation, Organization Validation, and Extended Validation options. 

2.  Wildcard SSL Certificates


Wildcard SSL certificates secure a single domain and all of its subdomains. For example, a single Wildcard SSL certificate for www.bestshoes.com would also secure login.bestshoes.com, contact.bestshoes.com, and other subdomains. This is a cost-effective solution for many websites which are available with Domain Validation and Organization Validation.

3.  Multi-Domain SSL Certificates


Multi-domain SSL certificates are also called Subject Alternative Name certificates. These certificates allow multiple domains to be secured under one certificate.

This means domains that are not subdomains of each other can share a single certificate. They can secure up to 250 domains, are flexible, and are available in Domain Validation, Organization Validation, and Extended Validation options.

4.  Unified Communications SSL Certificates

Unified Communications Certificates are a kind of multi-domain certificates that is used for Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office Communication Server environments. They can secure up to 100 domains. These can also be used on non-Microsoft systems equipped with specific configurations.

Understanding SSL Certificate Validation Levels

Just as a loan provider would authenticate, verify, and check your credit score before issuing you a loan, a Certificate Authority validates an organization before granting an SSL certificate. This process is known as SSL certificate validation. It ensures that the organization owns and operates the domain.

Validation can be limited to minimal checks or it can be as extensive as conducting background investigations. All levels offer the same TLS encryption. The difference lies in the thoroughness of the CA’s authentication.

Types of SSL Certificate Authentication

The choice of SSL certificate validation depends on your website’s functionality.

1.  Domain Validation SSL Certificates


Domain Validation SSL certificates offer a quick and affordable way to achieve industry-standard encryption. The validation process proves ownership of the domain. Once installed, DV certificates display trust indicators such as the padlock icon and “https://” in the browser address bar.

Benefits of DV SSL:

  • Confirms control of the domain
  • Enables HTTPS
  • Activates padlock icon in browsers
  • Quick issuance, often within minutes

Use Cases

DV SSL certificates are ideal for blogs, personal websites, etc. They are best used for sites that do not handle sensitive information or financial transactions.

2.  Organization Validation SSL Certificates


Organization Validation SSL certificates require a more thorough investigation and verification process. The CA manually contacts the organization and verifies its legal existence and domain ownership. OV certificates include the organization’s name and address. This kind of validation offers greater trust than DV certificates.

Benefits of OV SSL:

  • Confirms domain control
  • Enables HTTPS and the padlock icon
  • Authenticates the organization’s legitimacy
  • Displays organization details in the certificate information
  • Issued within 1-3 days after document verification

Use Cases

OV SSL certificates are best used for sites, where the public needs assurance about their legitimacy. For example, commercial and public-facing websites.

3.  Extended Validation SSL Certificates


Extended Validation SSL certificates are the most trustworthy. The CA conducts a thorough background check, which is quite time-consuming and expensive. However, these are the most trusted, and they are denoted by turning the browser URL bar green.

Benefits of EV SSL:

  • Confirms domain control
  • Enables HTTPS and the padlock icon
  • Authenticates the organization’s legitimacy
  • Adds maximum trust
  • Verifies the applicant’s right to request an EV SSL and the organization’s good standing
  • Displays organization details in the certificate information
  • Issued within 1–5 days after thorough verification

Use Cases

EV SSL certificates are essential for sites that ask for your financial details or personal details, such as passwords. Examples include eCommerce sites, financial institutions, and any website handling sensitive user data.

Tips to Choose the Right SSL Certificate

Here are some best practices that you can use to choose the right SSL certificates:

  • If your business only needs to secure one or two domains, single-name and wildcard certificates are ideal. However, if your operations require multiple domains, a multi-domain certificate is the better option
  • Not using SSL can harm both your business and your customers. Without SSL, customers’ sensitive data is at risk, as it won’t be encrypted. This can lead to data breaches, and sites are denoted as ‘not secure,’ which can ruin your reputation and influence your search engine ranking
  • Websites using SSL have URLs starting with HTTPS and a gray padlock icon that appears next to the URL in the browser
  • For sectors that handle sensitive information frequently, an Extended Validation or Organization Validation certificate is recommended. These certificates offer higher levels of security and trust

Reviewing your SSL certificate regularly reviewing your SSL certificate is essential to maintaining its security benefits.

Here’s how to ensure your SSL is properly configured

  • Verify HTTPS in URLs: After purchasing your certificate, check that your web pages’ URLs start with HTTPS.
  • Check the Padlock Icon.

Final Words

SSL certificates can build trust and secure online transactions. They reassure customers that their data is safe and that your business is legitimate. 

Selecting the right SSL certificate from the array of options available is essential to meeting your specific needs and maintaining a safe and trustworthy website.

For expert guidance on acquiring the most secure SSL certificates and ensuring a hassle-free and secure website experience for your audience, turn to the professionals at Free Parking.

Reach out today to secure SSL certificates that your audience can trust.

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