Having an SSL Certificate is the new norm for anyone that cares about website security and winning customer trust. Imagine building a fancy motel, but then the rooms have no doors. You will chase away customers instantly because no one likes to let their guard down and risk any form of insecurity. SSL certificate secures any data being transmitted between your web server and a client’s browser, such as login details, credit card data, email addresses, names, and so on. Top companies like Google have, in recent years, placed so much emphasis on SSL encryption such that leading certificate authorities (CAs) like DigiCert SSL now see an overflow of business. But with many certificate authorities in the market, a wide range of certificates with sub-categories emerged, how do you choose the right type of SSL certificate for a website?
Factors to Consider When Choosing an SSL Certificate
1. The Level of Validation
An SSL certificate has various levels of validation. This implies how rigorous the process of authenticating your CA’s identity is before you get issued with an SSL certificate. There are three primary levels of validation:
- Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificates
This is the lowest level of validation in the certificate chain and the cheapest. As the name suggests, the CA only sets out to verify if you are indeed the domain owner, which is done via email. You will just be required to provide necessary details like your domain’s WHOIS registry information, and you are good to go. You will then get the HTTPS protocol, a padlock, and a static seal. DV certificates are not ideal for eCommerce, banking or financial institutions. They are best for blogs and small internal sites.
- Organization Validation (OV) SSL certificates
Also known as business authentication, OV SSL certs require more detailed info from you before a CA can issue them. Usually, you will have to submit documents to prove that you own the business and the domain. On top of getting the HTTPS, a padlock, and a trusted seal, a visitor can also access the company info like name and address by clicking on the certificate details. A business or organization website should have an OV SSL as the bare minimum.
- Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates
This is the topmost level of validation and, as a result, the most trusted by the world’s leading eCommerce websites. They are easy to identify due to a green padlock, HTTPS, a dynamic site seal, and the company name clearly stated when clicking on a padlock. To get one of these, the CA will take you through a rigorous verification procedure where you have to prove details like your legal ownership of the company, physical location, domain ownership, and verification via a third party registered business database.
2. The Number of Domains/Subdomains Involved
Another essential factor to consider is the number of domains or subdomains that you have. There are three categories to consider here:
- Single-domain SSL
As the name suggests, this kind of certificate will only cover one primary domain and no other domains or subdomains.
- Wildcard SSL
If you are the kind of person whose primary domain comes packed with an array of sub-domains, a Wildcard SSL certificate is for you. It covers the primary domain and related first-level subdomains.
- Multi-domain/SAN SSL
This is the ultimate overarching SSL certificate that can cover many unrelated primary domains along with all their sub-domains. If you run many websites, a multi-domain/SAN SSL certificate is for you.
3. The reputation of the Issuing Certificate Authority
Reputation matters a lot in business. Before deciding which kind of SSL category to pick, you need first to identify a reputable CA trusted by millions of users worldwide. A company with a large market share indicates professionalism and efficiency in conducting its business. Check for recent history and see CAs that have been flagged by browsers or attracted negative reviews from clients. Put reputation before cost when picking a CA.
4. Warranty Amount
Like most businesses, CAs offer warranty amounts with their products based on the level validation. EV SSL comes with the highest warranty amount. This protects you from any mishaps or mis-issuance that may happen when you are using the certificate, in which case the CA gives you money. It is therefore always wise to check the warranty clause of your issuer.
Whenever you set out to purchase any product or service, price is always at the top of your mind. There are many qualified CAs in the market today, and as such, the competition is cutthroat. Putting in mind the number of domains you have and the level of validation you want, settle for a reputable brand with competitive prices like DigiCert SSL.
6. Issuance Time
Although you may want your SSL Certificate to be up and running a few minutes after you buy it, it’s good to know that the issuance time is directly proportional to the level of validation you have picked. A DV SSL will usually be issued the same day. The OV SSL will take a few days. The issuance of EV SSL can even extend to a few more days.
7. Customer Support
After-sale support is significant for any business. An ideal SSL provider should be reachable 24/7 whenever you encounter problems with your SSL certificate to guide you through it. This could be via chat, phone calls, or email.
8. Additional Security Elements
When settling for the CA to go with, it is nice to look at additional security perks with the SSL security. Some of these other security elements may turn out to be vital for the health of your website.
A proper SSL security is the lifeline of any website. With it comes improved customer trust, high search engine rankings, more conversions, beefed up security, and numerous benefits. With so many CAs in the market today, it is easy to make an uninformed decision on which one to go with by falling prey to enticing offers that end up disappointing you. By considering the above factors, you will be able to settle on a reputable CA like GlobalSign, AlphaSSL, Sectigo, DigiCert SSL and choose the right type of SSL Certificate for your site.