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What is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)?

SSL is a security protocol that assures users that the connection between their computer and the site they are visiting is secure. During a connection, lots of information passes between two computers, including what may be highly confidential data such as credit card numbers, user identification numbers or even passwords.

Under normal circumstances, this data is sent in plain text, which means that if the connection were to be intercepted by a third party, that data could be stolen. SSL prevents this by mandating an encryption algorithm to be used during the connection on both ends.

The padlock, or green padlock icon has become an assurance indicator to users that the website they are visiting takes their security seriously.

Types of SSL Certificates

Although all SSL certificates are designed for the same purpose, not all are equal. Think of it like buying a phone. All phones are basically designed to do the same thing, but there are different companies that manufacture them and produce many different models at varying price points.

To simplify the matters, we break down the SSL Certificate types by level of trust.

1. Domain Validated (DV) Certificate

Among SSL Certificates, the Domain Validated Certificate is the most basic and simply assures users that the site is safe. There is not much detail except for that simple fact and many security organizations do not recommend using Domain Validated Certificates for websites that deal in commercial transactions. The Domain Validated Certificate is the budget smartphone of the SSL world.

2. Organization Validated (OV) Certificate

Organizational Certificates holders are more stringently vetted are by CAs than Domain Validated Certificate holders. In fact, the owners of these certificates are authenticated by dedicated staff who validate them against government-run business registries. OV Certificates contain information about the business holding them and are often used on commercial websites and represent the midrange smartphones of the SSL world.

3. Extended Validation (EV) Certificate

Representing the highest level of trust in SSL rankings, EV Certificates are opted for by the best of the best and extremely stringently vetted. By opting to use EV Certificates, these websites are buying deeply into consumer trust. These are the iPhoneX of the SSL world.

The fact that SSL Certification has become so highly recommended today, many fraud websites have also taken to using SSL. After all, there is little difference to the websites, except for the green certification padlock. This is the key reason more reputable organizations are going for SSL Certification that are more highly vetted.

Where to Get SSL Certificates?

To get a SSL certificate, you need to go to a Certificate Authorities (CA).

Certificate Authorities (CA) are like private security companies. They are the ones who issue digital certificates that facilitate the SSL establishment process. They also belong to a limited list of businesses that meet detailed criteria to maintain their place on that list. CAs who maintain their place on that list can issue SSL Certificates –  so the list is exclusive.

The process is not quite as simple as it sounds, since before a certificate can be issued, the CA must check the identity of the website applying for it. The level of detail in those checks depend on what type of SSL is being applied for.
What makes a Certificate Authority (CA) great?

The best CA is one who has been in the business for some time and follows best practices in business, not only for itself but also for any partners associated with the business. Ideally, they should also be able to demonstrate proven expertise in the field.

Look for a CA that stays up to current standards, are actively involved in the security industry and has as many resources as possible that support their customers. The hosting service provider should be able to assist you.

A good CA would also:

  •     Have reasonably short validation times
  •     Be easily accessible to its customers
  •     Have great support
How to Install a SSL Certificate?

SSL Installation for cPanel
  • Under ‘Security’ options, click on ‘SSL/TLS Manager’
  • Under ‘Install and Manage SSL’, select ‘Manage SSL Sites’
  • Copy your certificate code including —–BEGIN CERTIFICATE—– and —–END CERTIFICATE—– and paste it into the “Certificate: (CRT)” field.
  • Click ‘Autofill by Certificate’
  • Copy and paste the chain of intermediate certificates (CA Bundle) into the box under Certificate Authority Bundle (CABUNDLE)
  • Click ‘Install Certificate’

SSL Installation for Plesk
  • Go to the Websites & Domains tab and choose which domain you’d like to install the certificate for.
  • Click ‘Secure Your Sites’
  • Under the ‘Upload Certificate Files’ segment, click ‘Browse’ and choose the certificate and the CA bundle files necessary.
  • Click ‘Send Files’
  • Go back to ‘Websites & Domains’ then click on ‘Hosting settings’ for the domain you’re installing the certificate on.
  • Under ‘Security’, there should be a drop-down menu for you to select the certificate.
  • Ensure the ‘SSL Support’ box is checked.
  • Make sure you click ‘OK’ to save changes

To validate if your installation was successful, you can use this free SSL validation tool.