What is an SSL certificate?

SSL certificate

An SSL certificate is a kind of digital certificate that allows an encrypted connection and offers authentication for a website. These certificates inform the client that such web service host proved domain ownership to the certificate authority when the certificate was issued. 1

This authentication procedure is similar to sealing a letter inside an envelope before mailing it. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security protocol that is frequently used on e-commerce sites and pages where users must enter personal or credit card information.

SSL encryption helps prevent hackers from obtaining sensitive information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, names, and addresses by guaranteeing that all data transferred between the two parties stays private and safe.

E-commerce is expected to account up 17 percent of total retail sales in the United States by 2022, up from approximately 12.7 percent in 2017. This expansion is only feasible if there is a strong foundation of confidence. SSL certificates establish user confidence by confirming the security and legitimacy of websites used to monitor money and conduct online transactions. Digicert is the industry most trusted SSL certificate that services over 60% of fortune 500 companies.

What is the purpose of an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate verifies that the supplier is who they say they are and shows that personal devices and websites are connected securely. Understanding SSL certificates is critical for website credibility and to assist consumers avoid becoming fraud victims. It’s important to remember that not all websites or SSL certificates are the same.

An SSL certificate aids in the protection of data such as:

  • Login information
  • Transactions made with a credit card or information about a bank account
  • Information that may be used to identify you, such as your complete name, address, date of birth, or phone number
  • Information that is confidential
  • Contracts and legal papers
  • Records of medical care

What are the various SSL certificate types?

Certification Authorities sell SSL certificates to website owners. CAs are reputable organisations that maintain and issue security certificates and public keys for usage in public networks.

SSL certificates are divided into three categories. Each one offers a different degree of protection. The different kinds of certificates have varying degrees of protection. This is why, whether conducting a financial transaction or doing anything involving sensitive user data, it’s critical to know what kind of SSL certificate a site is utilising.

  • Validated domain (DV). Only the owner of the site is verified using DV certificates. It’s a straightforward procedure in which the CA sends an email to the website’s registered email address to check its legitimacy. There is no need to provide any information about the business. Be aware that DV certificates have the lowest degree of trust and are often exploited by cybercriminals3 because they are inexpensive and may make a website seem more secure than it really is.
  • Validated by the organisation (OV). A CA must verify specific facts, such as the organization’s physical address and the domain name of its website, in order to obtain an OV certificate. This procedure usually takes a few days. OV certificates are a suitable choice for public-facing websites which deal with the less sensitive transactions since they have a modest degree of trust. 4
  • Validation that is more extensive (EV). For websites that handle sensitive data, this kind of certificate is a must-have. It has the greatest degree of security5 and is the most straightforward to recognise. To issue an EV certificate, the CA conducts an expanded examination of the application in order to boost the degree of trust in the company. Examining business papers, confirming applicant identification, and cross-checking information with a third-party database are all part of the review process. Whether the browser’s URL bar includes a padlock and the business name is displayed in green, users can tell if a website has an EV certificate.

Make certain your online experience is safe

So now you know what is an SSL certificate is, what the three kinds are, and how DV-enabled sites may lead to frauds, it’s time to understand how to minimize your risk while buying or doing other sensitive transactions online. Follow these four actions to help keep your online session safe:

  1. Check out the privacy policies of the vendor. Discover how your personal data will be used. Reputable businesses should be transparent about the data they gather and how they use it.
  2. On purchasing sites, look for indications of trust. Reputable emblems or badges indicate that a website complies with specified security requirements.
  3. Recognize the SSL certificate type used by a website. Look for visual signals that indicate security, such as a lock symbol and green hue in the address bar, as a first step. The business name appears in the browser address bar only on EV-enabled websites. Browsers don’t know the difference between a DV and an OV certificate. Norton’s Safe Web feature can assist you in distinguishing between the two.
  4. Only transact and give personal information to sites that have an OV or EV certificate. Although DV certificates may be used for legal reasons, this does not cover e-commerce sites. If you enter a URL into the Norton Safe Web tool and it says the site has a DV certificate, you should think twice about making a transaction there. If the site has an OV or EV certificate, you may be certain that the business information has been verified.

As more people buy online, cyber threats are becoming more prevalent. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Risk Report, the financial consequences of cyber attacks are increasing, with the cost of cybercrime to companies projected to exceed $8 trillion in the next five years. 6 Consumers may prevent frauds and safeguard their personal data from hackers by understanding the many kinds of SSL certificates to check for, what constitutes a secure site, and the possible dangers of online purchasing.

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