SSL certificates

SSL Certificate: What it is, Why do you need it, Where to get it?

As there are plenty of services available to the users over the web, at the same time the various threats and frauds also exist. If you are running a business, approaching the users and making them involved in your services and products is challenging. You need to ensure that your business is free of any scams and the customers can trust you. Building trust over the Internet is paramount, especially when the connection is transactional, involving money.

Data and information have become the new possessions on the web. Whatever activity happens must be secure and safe. Therefore, there is a lot of pressure on the website owners to provide an environment that permits users, visitors, or customers to have a sense of security. 

SSL certificates are one of the essential means through which the companies can assure the users that their online services are safe to build a connection. All they need to have is the simple icon of SSL displaying on their web browser. 

This guide will give you insights into SSL certificates’ working, its types, and from where and how you can install them. Let us get started by comprehending the meaning and significance of SSL certificates. 

What is an SSL Certificate?

The SSL is the acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. The Secure Sockets Layer is the security protocol used to enable users to have the safe and secure association between their systems and the site they are browsing or visiting. We are aware of the fact that while building a connection between two computers, there is a considerable amount of information exchange. The information can incorporate highly confidential data such as credit card numbers, user identification numbers, or even passwords. 

In everyday situations, the data is transferred in the form of plain text. If by any chance, the connection between the data sender and receiver is intervened by a third party, your data can be withdrawn quickly. That is where the SSL plays its role by preventing your data by mandating an encryption algorithm. This algorithm has to be utilized during the connection at both ends.

The websites that make use of this security acquire the SSL certificate and padlock or green padlock icon over their website. It works as an assurance indicator for the users to rely on the website they are visiting and know that the website takes security measures seriously. 

Why do you need an SSL Certificate?

As we have discussed in the previous section, the SSL certificate helps build the users’ confidence in your website when it comes to exchanging vital information. But one can ask if it is necessary for all the websites that do not require handling sensitive financial-related data. The answer to this will also be a big yes due to the following reason – 

At the beginning of July 2018, it was stated that Google would be designating all standard HTTP pages under the non-secure list. It is essential to consider this Google factor because if your site is recognized as non-secure by Google, it might suffer a search ranking penalty. The growth of any website depends upon the traffic it achieves. If your website does not show up on the Google listings, it will not acquire much traffic. 

Getting an SSL certificate will be a smart move to avoid the ‘not secured’ mentioning of Google on your site. Although Google is only issuing warnings and penalizing search rankings in these times, due to the increasing cybersecurity predicaments, it will move ahead implementing the protocols more strictly. Therefore, from the ongoing and future perspective, it will be a wise decision to execute SSL to your website. 

How does SSL Works?

Generally conversing, connection building involves three main elements. They are –

  1. The Client – It is the computer system that requests information. 
  2. The Server – It is the computer system that operates the data information which the client requests. 
  3. The Connection – It is the path along which data or information travels between the client and server.

Apart from these elements, the additional two components, when added to them, will help establish a secure connection with SSL. They are explained below –

  1. Certificate Signing Request (CSR) – It generates two keys on the server. One is known as the private key, and the other is the public key. These two keys operate in tandem to build the secure connection.
  1. Certificate Authority (CA) – It is an issuer of Secure Sockets Layer certificates. One can identify it as the security company that retains a database of trusted websites.

When there is a request for a connection, the server will generate the CSR. The data is then sent to the CA, including the public key, through the request action. Next, the certificate authority builds a data structure that will match the private key.

That is how the working of SSL takes place. Let us find out further what different types of SSL certificates are available in the subsequent section. 

Different Types of SSL Certificates

You will discover that all the Secure Sockets Layer certificates are intended and utilized for the equivalent concept. But all of the SSL certificates are not the same. Consider the case of buying a phone, the purpose is the same behind designing all the phones, but still, they differ. They vary according to how different companies manufacture them and according to the various models that come at different prices. The types of SSL certificates are classified based on the level of trust to simplify the complexity. Go through each type of them in the following columns to understand the difference. 

  1. Domain Validated (DV) Certificate 

The domain validated certificate is the most fundamental certificate amongst all the other SSL certificates. It ensures with simplicity that the site user is visiting is safe. It does not contain much detailing except the safety factor. Most security organizations will not refer the Domain Validated Certificates to those websites that incorporate commercial transactions. This certificate can be considered budgetary security for the website to assure visitors the safety. 

  1. Organization Validated (OV) Certificate

The Organization Validated Certificate holders are considered more reliable than the Domain Validated Certificate holders. The dedicated staff validates the Organization Validated Certificate holders against government-run business registries. This certificate incorporates the information of the business that owns it. Generally, commercial websites are the entities that opt for the OV certificate. 

  1. Extended Validation (EV) Certificate

The Extended Validation Certificate gives the highest level of trust amongst all the other SSL certificate rankings. It is extremely stringently vetted and the businesses buying the EV certificate earn the consumer trust at its best. 

You must be wondering by now about where you can receive the SSL certificate for your business website. Jump to the following section to get the answer.  

Where to get an SSL Certificate? 

To receive the SSL certificate for your website, reach out to the Certificate Authorities (CA). The CAs are similar to the private security companies and issue digital certificates that expedite the Secure Sockets Layer establishment process. They are the ones who come under the limited list of businesses. They need to meet the detailed criteria to acquire a place in the list. Only the CAs who can retain their position on that list have the authority to issue SSL certificates.

The Certificate Authorities first check the website’s credentials and other information according to the type of SSL you will apply. Only after the detailed inspection will they issue the SSL certificate to your website.

It will be wise to look for the CA who are staying up with the current standards. They must be active in the security industry and incorporate as many resources as possible to support their customers. A reputed CA must also –

  • Have reasonably short validation times
  • Be effortlessly available to its customers
  • Have excellent support

After understanding where one can get the SSL certificate for the website, let us also study how one can install the Secure Sockets Layer certificate.

How to Install SSL Certificate?

Here we have provided the installation guide of Secure Sockets Layer for both cPanel and Plesk. 

SSL Installation for cPanel 

Steps to follow:

  1. First, you have to click on ‘SSL/TLS Manager,’ available under ‘Security’ options.
  2. Under ‘Install and Manage SSL,’ select the ‘Manage SSL Sites’ option.
  3. Next, you need to copy your certificate code, including —–BEGIN CERTIFICATE—– and —–END CERTIFICATE—– and paste it into the “Certificate: (CRT)” field.
  4. Click the ‘Autofill by Certificate’ option. 
  5. Then, copy and paste the chain of intermediate certificates (CA Bundle) into the box under Certificate Authority Bundle (CABUNDLE)
  6. In the end, click the ‘Install Certificate.’ option.

Note: If you do not have the dedicated IP address, you will require to select one from the IP Address menu.

SSL Installation for Plesk

Steps to follow:

  1. First of all, go to the Websites & Domains tab and choose the domain for which you want to install the SSL certificate.
  2. Click the ‘Secure Your Sites’ option. 
  3. Under the ‘Upload Certificate Files’ segment, click ‘Browse’ and choose the certificate and the required CA bundle files. 
  4. Click ‘Send Files’. 
  5. Go back to ‘Websites & Domains’, then click on ‘Hosting settings’ for the domain on which you’re installing the certificate. 
  6. Under ‘Security,’ there should be a drop-down menu for you to select the certificate.
  7. Ensure the ‘SSL Support’ box is checked.
  8. In the end, click on ‘OK’ to save changes.

Updating your website’s internal links

You can observe that the website’s internal links are utilizing HTTP. Such internal links have to undergo updation to the HTTPS links. If your website is small, having only a few pages, then the process will not take much time. However, if your website incorporates hundreds of pages, the process may take much longer than you can assume. Hence, the solution for this is to utilize the automated tool to save time. 

Update links pointing to your site

When you are done setting up the HTTPS, the external websites linking to your website will still be pointing to the HTTP version. In a few steps, you can set up the redirection. If there are any external websites where you manage your profile, you can update the URL to point to the HTTPS version.

Update Your CDN SSL

It is optional to update CDN as not everyone utilizes a CDN. The CDN is an acronym for Content Delivery Network. It is a geographically distributed set of servers. It functions to store copies of your web files and display them to visitors from a geographically close server. It basically helps to increase the loading speed. Moreover, through the CDN, the website performance and security can be improved as its servers can monitor and recognize malicious traffic and prevent it from reaching your website.

In the end, you can accept the fact that SSL certificates are the excellent option that comes with a small price to assure users or visitors that they are getting the security of their data and privacy.


How much does an SSL Certificate Cost?

The Secure Sockets Layer certificate can cost you an average of $200 per year. The mentioned rate is just an average. It will vary according to the type of SSL certificate you want to opt for your website. The higher level of SSL certificates in terms of better security will eventually cost you more. 

Where can I get an SSL certificate for free?

If you wish to have the SSL certificate for free, log in to your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard. Next, you need to scroll down to the ‘Security’ section. Go to ‘MY Sites’ option, select the ‘Manage Site Page’, Bluehost users will discover the ‘free SSL’ option. At last, you can shift to the security tab and turn on ‘free SSL certificate’ for your website. And, you will acquire the Secure Sockets Layer certificate for free. 

Can I use HTTPS without an SSL certificate?

No, you cannot utilize the HTTPS without any certificate. You will have two options: either buy a trusted certificate or build a self-signed one for testing. 

What happens if you do not have an SSL certificate?

Suppose your website does not possess the Secure Sockets Layer certificate. There will no change in the functions of the website, it will remain the same, but at the same time, it will be exposed to hackers and threats. Google will notify the visitors to let them know if your website is secured with the SSL. Google will always give priority to the websites owning the Secure Sockets Layer certificate when it comes to ranking them and other few aspects. 


Get in Touch

Arpit Saini

He is the Director of Cloud Operations at Serverwala Cloud Data Centers Pvt Ltd and also follows a passion to break complex tech topics into practical and easy-to-understand articles. He loves to write about Web Hosting, Software, Virtualization, Cloud Computing, and much more.

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