SSL certificates are cryptographic digital certificates that use the Secure Sockets Layer protocol to provide encrypted communication between a server and a client. Using Secure Sockets Layer encryption, data is transferred within an “encrypted tunnel” which cannot be read by anyone except the recipient. If you’re using your website to accept payments, for example, you’ll need a certificate in order to encrypt the credit card details of your customers.
How do Secure Sockets Layer Certificate Work?
SSL certificates carry a public key, which is used to encrypt the data, and a private key, which is used to decrypt it. These keys are very large numbers. When a secure website sends visitor information, it does so by creating a message that consists of the web page address and other information. This message is then encrypted with the site owner’s private key. The visitor’s browser uses the site owner’s public key to decrypt this information before displaying it onscreen. Ecommerce websites use SSL certificates to encrypt the sensitive information on their web pages.
Why You Need a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate
The main reason to purchase an SSL certificate is to encrypt sensitive information. When a user accesses a website, their web browser displays the site owner’s domain name. Unfortunately, anyone who knows this information can figure out what type of information they have access to, as well as where it originated from. If you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection at a coffee shop to send data back and forth between your iOS device and online banking site, for example, anyone within range of that antenna can eavesdrop on your messages and identity theft. The Webhosting provider will provide you a certificate which you need to install on your server.
Types of Secure Sockets Layer Certificate
There are six different types of certificates, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Each certificate type comes with advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation in which you’re using it. The different types are:
- Organization Validated Certificates
- Domain Validated Certificates
- Extended Validation Certificates
- Wildcard Certificates
- Unified Communications Certificates
- Multi web domains Wildcard Certificates
How to Obtain a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate
You’ll probably be able to obtain a certificate from Certificate Authority (CA), which holds the exclusive right to create and issue Secure Sockets Layer. You can purchase a certificate directly from these companies, but they charge a great deal of money for their services. The Webhosting provider will provide you a certificate which you need to install on your server. WordPress will install it for you.
Can a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate be Used on Multiple Servers?
An SSL certificate is meant to be used on a single server that is owned by your business. If your sales business owns multiple servers, creating a separate certificate for each one may be more cost-effective. In many cases, only one certificate can be used per server. You can get around this by creating a multi-domain certificate, but some cost is still associated with this process.
What Happens When a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate Expires?
The expiration date on a Secure Sockets Layer certificate is the first day of the month it was issued. Once the certificate expires, it becomes useless, and you’ll need to purchase a new one. This process is also called “renewing” your certificate.
Renewal is easily done online through the Certification Authority (CA) website where you bought your certificate. This process is automated and does not require you to visit the site again. When your certificate expires, just log into the website and it’ll take you right to your renewal page.
How to Tell if a Site Has a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate
When you visit a web page that does not appear to be secure, it probably has an unsecured connection. When you see an “S” in the address bar on your browser, your data is encrypted and cannot be viewed unless the site’s owner’s private key is used to decrypt it.
SSL certificates protect the confidentiality of your credit card numbers and other sensitive information. If you’re using your WordPress website to accept payments, for example, you’ll need a certificate in order to encrypt the credit card details of your customers. As mentioned earlier, the Webhosting provider will install it for you.