An SSL certificate is a type of digital certificate which authenticates a website and enables an encrypted connection. Certificates demonstrate to the client that the web service provider has demonstrated ownership of the domain to the certificate authority at the time of certificate issuance.
This process is similar to sealing a letter in an envelope before sending it through the mail. Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, is commonly used on e-commerce sites and pages that require users to submit personal or credit card information.
SSL encryption protects all data passed between two parties, preventing hackers from stealing private information such as credit card numbers, bank accounts, names, and addresses.
By validating that websites used to track finances and make online purchases are secure and legitimate, SSL certificates build trust with users.
How do SSL certificates work?
An SSL certificate ensures that the provider is who they claim to be and also indicates secure connections between personal devices and websites. SSL certificates are essential for website trust and to protect customers from scammers. It’s important to remember that not all websites or SSL certificates are created equal.
For example, SSL certificates help secure information such as:
- Usernames and passwords
- for credit card transactions and bank account details
- Individually identifiable information, such as a full name, address, date of birth, or telephone number
- is considered confidential
- in contracts and legal documents
- such as medical records
Which types of SSL certificates are there?
SSL certificates are purchased from Certification Authorities by website owners. In a public network, CAs manage and issue security certificates and public keys.
SSL certificates come in three different types. Each offers a different level of security. Each certificate type offers a different level of security. This is why it’s important to understand what kind of SSL certificate a site is using when performing a financial transaction or doing anything involving personal user data.
- Domain validated (DV). The DV certificate only verifies who owns the site. The CA will send an email to the website’s registered email address in order to verify its identity. Information about the company is not required. DV certificates have the lowest level of trust and are often used by cybercriminals since they are easy to obtain and can make a website appear more secure than it is.
- Organizationally validated (OV). A CA must validate certain information to receive an OV certificate, including the organization’s physical location and the website’s domain name. This process usually takes a few days. OV certificates have a moderate level of trust and are a good option for public-facing websites that handle less sensitive transactions.
- Extended validation (EV) certificates. Websites that handle sensitive information need this type of certificate. This certificate has the highest level of security5 and is the easiest to identify. The CA performs an enhanced review of the applicant to increase the level of confidence in the business in order to issue an EV certificate. Examining corporate documents, verifying the identity of applicants, and checking the information against a third-party database are all part of the review process.process.process. If an EV certificate is installed, the browser’s URL bar displays a padlock and the company name appears in green.