SSL Certificates: What You Need to Know

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What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a type of digital certificate that provides various levels of authentication for a website and enables an encrypted connection. SSL certificates demonstrate ownership of the domain to the certificate authority at the time of issuance.

Does My Website Need an SSL Certificate?

Your website needs an SSL certificate if you’re asking for any personal information or financial transaction. Historically, because SSL encrypts the data transmission, it could slow down webpages. However now-a-days, internet speeds and processors are much faster and daily life is increasingly happening online. Google has been slowly pressuring all domains to be secure for several years, using SSL security as a ranking signal to encourage adoption.

Google Chrome non-secure domain warning.

How do I get an SSL certificate?

Managed WordPress hosts generally include free SSL certificates that authenticate a single domain for which it’s issued. They’re generally easy, one-click installs for each website and work for virtually everything including ecommerce. However, paid SSL certificates can provide higher levels of consumer confidence with verified details about the domain and the legal entity of ownership. You need to consider the number of domains and the validation level.

SSL Validation Level

There are three different levels of SSL validation: Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV), and Extended Validation (EV). The different validation levels gauge an entity’s trustworthiness.

Domain validated SSL certificates

A Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificates is an SSL certificate that is issued after an applicant has proven some control over a domain, only. Generally, no other validation is done.

Organization validated SSL certificates

An Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificate is a higher assurance SSL certificate that is issued after an applicant has proven some control over a company/business/organization.

Extended validation SSL certificates

An Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate is the highest assurance SSL certificate that provides higher assurance in the legal entity of the certificate owner and their control/ownership of a web site.

SSL Domains

Single Domain SSL Certificate

A Single Domain SSL Certificate will protect one domain name only. For example, it will protect www.domain.com but NOT protect mail.domain.com or any other subdomains.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

A Wildcard SSL Certificate will protect one or more subdomains — if these subdomains do not have any defined resource records. For example, it will protect www.domain.com AND mail.domain.com or any other subdomains.

Multi Domain SSL Certificate

A MultiDomain SSL certificate protects multiple domains on a single IP address. For example, a primary certificate will protect www.domain.com and additional alternative domains listed on the same certificate like www.thisdomain.com and www.thatdomain.com.

Mixed Content Warning

Do you have an SSL certificate installed and your website is still unsecure? A mix of secure, and non-secure, resources on a webpage can cause a domain to be non-secure even with a valid SSL certificate properly installed. This is often caused in WordPress websites when migrating across domains.

Help Securing Your Website with SSL

Understanding which SSL certificate you need can be confusing for a novice. Spokencode recommends managed WordPress hosts for easy, free SSL installation and management. If you need a higher level of assurance, we can help you purchase and install a third party certificate.