In this blog post, Well look at Understanding SSL certificates and types of SSL certificates and many more facets to that. In a precise description, an SSL Certificate can be said to keep data secure and prevent hackers from modifying, plagiarising, or reading it.
Table of Contents
Understanding SSL Certificate
SSL Certificate is a security protocol that stands for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL in the most basic terms can be explained as it encrypts the transfer of information between two parties. It ensures that the data transfer between two parties remains safe and cannot be hacked or misused by any kind of malicious party this is for protecting all confidential and important information. SSL Certificate also acts as an authentication for any website, it builds a sense of security, trust, and professionalism in the minds of people.
When a website is secured by an SSL Certificate it shows a little acronym as HTTPS which stands for ( Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and it appears with a small lock beside it in the URL. When a website is not secured by an SSL Certificate it shows an acronym as HTTP ( Hypertext Transfer Protocol) it appears without a small lock beside it along with words written as “not secured” in the URL which creates an infamous reputation for the website.
How does encryption work in SSL Certificate?
Let’s start with the basics, So what does encryption actually mean it means creating a code language while sending the data and it can be decoded only by the receiver. So two keys to the sender are a public key and a private key, The Public key can be available to anyone and can only encrypt (code) the data while the Private key is available only sender and receiver and can decrypt(decode) the data. Let us understand this with the help of an example:
Imagine you want to send a secret letter to your friend, but you want to make sure only your friend can read it, and you want your friend to be sure it’s really from you. You decide to use a special lock and key system:
Lock and Key Pair:
You have two keys: a lock and a key.
Your lock is like the server’s public key – anyone can see it, but it’s unique to you.
Your key is like the server’s private key – only you have it, and it’s a secret.
Sending the Secret Letter:
You give your friend your open lock (public key).
Your friend uses your lock to lock the letter (encrypt it) before sending it back to you.
Receiving and Unlocking:
When you get the locked letter, you use your secret key (private key) to unlock it (decrypt it).
Because only your key can open your lock, you’re the only one who can read the letter.
Your friend knows it’s really from you because they used your lock to send the letter, and only your key can open it.
Now you and your friend can send secret letters back and forth, and you both know they’re safe from each other.
In SSL, computers use a similar system with complex math instead of physical locks and keys. The public key is like the lock, and the private key is like the secret key. This ensures secure, private, and authenticated communication over the internet, just like your secret letters to your friend.
Types of SSL Certificates
- Extended Validation certificates (EV SSL)
- Organization Validated certificates (OV SSL)
- Domain Validated certificates (DV SSL)
- Wildcard SSL certificates
- Multi-Domain SSL certificates (MDC)
- Unified Communications Certificates (UCC)
1. Extended Validation Certificate
EV Certificates are the highest-paid SSL Certificates available in the market. It involves the highest level of security and includes maximum encryption of data. It helps in trust building to the next level. This kind of certificate involves the name, address, and other details of the website along with the lock and HTTPS mentioned. To obtain this certificate the website owner has to go through a long standardized process of confirming the domain which includes confirming the organization’s legal status, physical location, and other details. These are often used by brokerage sites or e-commerce website
2. Organization Validated Certificate
Since the website owner must go through a comprehensive validation process to receive one, this SSL certificate version offers an assurance level that is comparable to that of the EV SSL certificate. To distinguish legitimate websites from malicious ones, this kind of certificate also shows the website owner’s information in the address bar. The main function of OV SSL certificates, which tend to be the second most expensive (behind EV SSLs), is to encrypt sensitive user data during transactions. An OV SSL certificate must be installed on commercial or public-facing websites to guarantee that any consumer information disclosed remains private.
3. Domain Validated Certificate
This is the simplest and easiest form of SSL Certificate to obtain. This often provides minimal security with almost little encryption of data. It’s the cheapest option available in the market. It can be achieved simply by confirming that the website owner has authority over the domain by responding to a phone call or text.
This kind of SSL Certificate is useful for websites that have almost no data collection such as blogs. Still, it’s better than no security as something is better than nothing. This kind of SSL Certificate can be used according to the nature of your webs
4. Wildcard SSL Certificate
This is suitable for websites that have multiple subdomains. In this SSL Certificate, you just have to purchase one certificate and it protects the main domain and multiple sub-domains for the price of just one certificate which is more affordable than buying multiple SSL Certificates.
5. Multi-Domain Certificate
A multi-domain certificate, also known as a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) certificate. It is used to secure many domains and subdomain names. But we need to be careful that multi-domain doesn’t support subdomains by default. The website owner must clearly mention both the parent domain and subdomain
This is suitable for websites that have multiple sub-domains and want to secure multiple domains. It’s like killing two birds with one stone
6. Unified Communicaion Certificate
It’s also known as a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) certificate. The main motto behind creating the Unified Communication Certificate was to secure communication in Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office Communication environments. It acts similarly to multi-domain as they both provide a single certificate to various domains but this is specifically tailored for Microsoft Exchange and Office Communication environments, while Multi-domain certificates are more adaptable and may be used for a larger range of scenarios involving numerous domains or subdomains on various types of servers, making them versatile and usable for everything while UCC is specialized for a particular tasks and server only.
SSL Certificates are the unsung heroes of internet security. These digital certificates establish trust, confidentiality, and data integrity in the vast landscape of online communication. By encrypting data between a user’s browser and a web server, SSL certificates shield sensitive information from prying eyes and ensure that the websites we visit are who they claim to be. As cyber threats continue to evolve, SSL certificates remain a critical defense mechanism in safeguarding our digital interactions. Whether you’re a website owner looking to protect your visitors or an internet user concerned about online security, SSL certificates are an essential tool in today’s interconnected world.