With more businesses flooding the internet, the need for data security has risen manifold.
According to a 2021 report by IBM, on average, a data breach costs around $4.24 million to businesses.
This astounding number is set to increase in the coming year, so businesses must take cyberattacks seriously.
Gone are those days when small businesses believed that they were safe since they did not have a healthy amount of data. It would be best for them to know that hackers have decided to spare no one.
So, what is the solution?
The only way to prevent such attacks is by installing an SSL certificate.
Wondering what it is all about?
What is an SSL certificate?
You must have seen a secure padlock ahead of a website’s URL along with https:// instead of http://; they are SSL encrypted.
An SSL or Secure Socket Layer certificate is a security protocol that encrypts a website’s connection keeping third-party intervention at bay.
An SSL facilitates a secure interaction between a website’s server and a web browser. It protects data by establishing a secure network for communication where no hacker can see what is being transferred.
But SSL is not confined to this role only.
If you are an ecommerce website that wants to accept payments online, you must abide by the PCI or Payment Card Industry guidelines.
According to these guidelines, if a website wants to accept payments online, it must have an SSL certificate.
Moreover, search engines like Google have also stated in their recent Page Experience Update that an SSL is mandatory for all websites to rank on the search engine results page.
We all know how important search rankings are for a business. Without higher rankings, nobody will be able to see our brand, and all our efforts for creating a positive brand image will get dashed. Therefore, online businesses must purchase SSL certificate to ensure secure connections and higher customer trust, SERP rankings.
What if I don’t have an SSL certificate?
Non-SSL websites must bear heavy losses. Search engines like Google marginalize them by showing a “Not Secure” sign whenever a user tries to visit a non-SSL encrypted website, let alone ranking them.
Moreover, non-SSL websites also put their customer data at severe risk. All communication done on them passes in a plain text format, giving easy insights into customer data such as passwords, addresses, usernames, bank details, credit/debit card numbers, etc.
And, as we mentioned above, non-SSL websites are not allowed to accept payments online, constraining their liberties further.
After learning about SSL, you must also wonder about its types, right?
Well, don’t worry as we have that covered for you.
Types of SSL certificates
So, SSL can be categorized on two bases: a) types of validation and b) number of domains and subdomains secured.
Let’s look at each one of them:
Based on Validation
1. EV or Extended Validation
The extended validation is obtained after the most strict and vigorous background check.
Before handing EV certs, your standard domain validity, business location, identity, certificate issuing authority and ownership etc., are checked.
Owners must submit their personal identification and business documentation for verification to obtain this digital certificate.
They are the most expensive certifications as they provide the highest level of website validation.
2. OV or Organizational Validation
The background checks regarding the business’s existence and the owner are done to obtain this certificate.
But those audits aren’t as vigorous as done in the Extended Validation certificate. It is affordable for businesses and can be obtained within a few days of application.
3. DV or Domain Validation
Businesses or sole proprietors who want to quickly verify their site connection must opt for a domain validation certificate.
Only the domain ownership is verified in a DV certificate, and a certificate is issued.
Based on domains and subdomains secured
1. Single domain certificates
Single domain SSL can only protect a single domain or subdomain at a given time. It is an excellent choice if you want to start a blog or own a small business website.
2. Wildcard certificates
Wildcard certificates can protect an unlimited number of first-level subdomains under the primary domain.
A domain protected by a wildcard certificate always has an asterisk (*) ahead of its domain name.
For example, installing a wildcard certificate on www.domain.com will become *domain.com, and secure blog.domain.com, payments.domain.com, etc.
3. Multi-domain certificates
A single SSL can protect up to 250 Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDNs) in multi-domain certificates. This limit varies from provider to provider.
Now that you know all the types, let us tell you how SSL works to protect all communication and dash all attempts by cybercriminals to compromise websites.
How does an SSL certificate work?
SSL protects sensitive user data through a process called SSL handshake. This process may seem lengthy to you, but it happens in milliseconds.
So, without further due, let’s look at the process:
- First, a web browser attempts to connect to a web server of an SSL secured website.
- The browser requests the server for its identification.
- The website server sends a copy of a digitally signed SSL certificate to the browser in response.
- The browser then checks whether the certificate copy is authentic and, if found so, signals it to a web server.
- The web server signs a digital acknowledgement and passes it to the browser to start the encryption session.
- Finally, the data shared between the web server and the browser gets encrypted.
After touching all SSL points, some people might still doubt SSL hijacking. They must be wondering whether their SSL certificate is unbreachable.
Well, let’s talk about that too:
Can SSL be hijacked?
It is improbable to witness an SSL compromise because SSL does not work to protect our website. Instead, it works to protect your website’s connection.
If you have lousy passwords, outdated CMS software, no 2-factor authentication and bad admin control hygiene, no SSL can protect you.
Hackers don’t look to compromise SSL certificates. Instead, they want to compromise your entire website.
So, it is best to work on our cybersecurity practices instead of worrying about SSL certs. Most SSL certs never get compromised.
You must have got an idea about the significance of security protocols for your website.
But simply installing these protocols won’t help. You, along with your staff, must maintain strict cyber hygiene by creating full admin access and passwords policies.
Your software should be up-to-date, and all brains working on their computers must be ready to face challenges like phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, etc.