SSL Certificates and Web Security – A Guide

In today’s world, web security and SSL certificates have become mandatory. When ranking websites, Google, the largest search engine on the planet, looks for SSL certificates for better rankings and prioritizing. And they have also started the initiative of “HTTPS everywhere” to make the web a more secure place and highlight the importance of web security.

This article will discuss more on what SSL certification is, what types there are, and compare two major companies that provide SSL certificates – DigiCert and Sectigo.

What are SSL Certificates?

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. This layer establishes a secure connection between the web server and the web browser. When a website has an SSL certificate, a small lock symbol appears at the start of the link. And HTTPS appears in the URL instead of HTTP, which means that you are browsing securely.

SSL uses cryptographic techniques to provide safety to users. The web browser attempts to connect with the webserver and sends a message to the server to identify itself. The web server sends its SSL certificates to the web browser for verification. The browser verifies the certificate and sends a connection request to the server, and the server sends back acknowledgment, and the encrypted session gets started. The data that goes back and forth between the browser and the server is therefore encrypted.

An SSL certificate provides security to the website’s data. It’s almost impossible to breach into the data with SSL, and even if there is a breach, the data is in extreme cryptography and can’t be deciphered. Customers’ information like usernames and passwords are safe and secure when the website has an SSL certification. Important transaction information like credit and debit card details and online wallet details are highly secured with SSL certification. 

Google gives top priority to secure websites and helps them rank faster. The first thing a user notices when visiting a website is the security, i.e., SSL and HTTPS, so it is essential to have a secure website to gain credibility with the customers and indirectly generate more revenue.

Types of Certificates

Depending on the capacity and purpose at which we operate our website, there are four types of SSL certificates:

N.B. Wildcards are a handy sub-type of DV or OV certificates.

Let’s look into each certification in more detail.

Extended validation certificate (EV SSL)

EV SSL is the most trusted and most used certificate by businesses around the globe. These certifications are issued under guidelines that are proposed by the CA/Browser forum. They can only be published by the subset of CAs (Certified Authorities) and require legal verification of the certificate’s requestor. This certificate uses the same encryption techniques as the other two types. EV certificates show a green browser bar, which indicates security and credibility.

Organization Validated Certificate (OV SSL)

These certificates show that an organization is valid. The owner of the business must show proof of both the physical and legal existence of the company. The users will see a lock at the start of the address bar, which indicates that the site is secure and safe from hackers.

Domain Validated Certificate (DV SSL)

These are some of the most commonly used certificates. The verification process for DV only verifies the domain of the website (business). This verification is to check whether the requestor is the owner of the domain or not.

Wildcard Certificate (Wildcard SSL)

A useful type of certificate that secures all subdomains at once, along with the main one. It’s therefore not necessary to issue a new certificate if a new subdomain is changed or created. Only available on DV or OV certificate types, for security reasons.

Where to get SSL Certificates

There are many SSL certificate providers across the globe. This article will discuss two of the top companies that provide the certification, and those are Digicert and Sectigo.

SSL Certificate using DigiCert

DigiCert.Inc is an American based digital company that provides users with digital security. They help users across the globe to get the validation required for SSL certificates through Public Key Infrastructure. DigiCert is the world’s largest certificate authority, representing 60% of the EV certificates and 96% of the OV certificates globally.

Among its extensive range, it offers three major certifications, namely DigiCert Basic, DigiCert secure site, and DigiCert secure site pro. According to the security level users need on their website, they choose from the given options. The basic variation is cheaper, and as secure features are added, the cost also increases.

SSL Certificate using Sectigo

Formerly known as Comodo CA limited (Rebranded as Sectigo in November 2018), Sectigo company holds the authority for issuing SSL certificates. The company offers digital security to both organizations and independent consumers. With more than 20 years of experience under their belt and hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide, Sectigo is one of the leading companies that provide web security with SSL certifications.

Sectigo broadly offers six types of certificates for the customers who want their website secured from malware. They include DV SSL, OV SSL, EV SSL, WILDCARD SSL, MULTIDOMAIN SSL, and SINGLE CERTIFICATES. They are also an award-winning innovation company with excellent customer support.

DigiCert vs Sectigo – feature comparison

Now, let’s take a closer look at each metric and compare them.

 

Key size and encryption strength

The key size determines the number of combinations it takes to break an encryption algorithm. Both DigiCert and Sectigo offer 2048 Bit keys so their encryption is very hard to break. The encryption strength is also the same for both, which is 256-Bit.

Root Domain Support

Sectigo and Digicert now secure and cover domains both with and without www.

Validation level

Both Digicert and Sectigo support all the validation certificate types, including domain validated certifications. However, Digicert brand does not offer DV SSL – the most basic and common type – except under its sub-brands. So, Digicert itself serves more enterprise-level needs whereas many users search for DV SSL with Sectigo.

Multiple Domains and Sub-Domains

If we want to cover multiple or sub-domains with SSL certification, both Sectigo and DigiCert provide multi-domain certificates called SAN certificates. We can add up to 250 Multi-domain SANs with DigiCert and 100 SANs with Sectigo.

Issuing Authority

Comodo Ca is a well-reputed brand with more than 20 years of experience. They rebranded themselves in fall 2018 to Sectigo, but they still have the largest market share of CAs. DigiCert, formerly known as Symantec, has also been around the block for many years and has vast industry experience.

Certificate Costs

With so many free SSL certificates available in the market, it sounds like a feasible idea to settle for one. But with premium certifications, you get both customer support and value for money. On top of that, OV and EV SSLs provide a further layer of customer trust as the certificate itself lists the business or registered organization. They can’t be issued to individuals.

Both DigiCert and Sectigo offer premium customer support and services. 

Final Words

We have now seen what SSL certification is and what benefits it provides to website owners. And also, we have seen different types of SSL certificates based on usage and capacity. 

Looking at the two top SSL providers, with their powerful encryption and multiple validation options, the choice is tough. Both will secure your site robustly. Both have long-held authority and experience. The only thing to consider is whether their specific certificate types match your site. 

Looking for domain protection for your blog? DV SSL with Sectigo will be great. Maintaining a high-traffic site with multiple sub-domains? Both brands can get you a top Wildcard version of the OV SSL certificate. Know your site, think security and trust, and you’ll know what certificate works best for you.

Secure your domain now

At Plesk, safety and credibility are provided by powerful Sectigo plugins for you and your customers. Through the SSL It! extension, DV and DV Wildcard releases are among the many certificates you can easily install to secure your domain.

The next screenshot shows how SSL It!’s page looks like for a domain without a configured certificate but when the Sectigo extension is already installed:

Let’s click “Buy Now”. Purchasing a PositiveSSL certificate via store.plesk.com:

After purchasing, Sectigo (Certification Authority, CA) verifies a domain and issues a certificate. When the certificate is issued, the extension automatically installs and secures the website in Plesk. As you can see, SSL Labs rated the website secured with a Sectigo certificate on A grade.

Just four easy steps, and your site is protected. 

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