Many terms pop up these days when it comes to being online. Unless you have a current degree in computer sciences, you probably are familiar with them, but don’t know what most of them are. One of those tricky half-understood terms are “SSL”, used in conjunction with certificate. But, what is an SSL certificate in actuality? Here’s what you need to know.
The absolute bare minimum you need to know is that an SSL certificate (SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”) is what creates trust between a user and a website. When a website has an SSL certificate, it means that the website provider is authentic — they are who they say they are and have been verified as such — and that they are focused on creating a secure connection that protects the user’s data.
Who uses SSL certificates?
Ideally, every website in the world that harbours personal information would have an SSL certificate, but this is not the case. Additionally, there is more than one type of SSL certificate out there. As such, when you see an SSL certificate advertised on a webpage, you should still use caution. A lot of websites will use SSL certificates. Examples include banking institutions, social media websites, and a lot of news outlets.
What else should I know about SSL certificates?
Mentioned briefly above, there are a few types of SSL certificates to learn about. The main ones that you’ll see are:
- Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates: This is the best of the best for an SSL certificate. It’s used for those online spots that hold and store sensitive information (ex: banking institutions or government institutions), and there is a lengthy, in-depth application process as a result.
- Organizationally validated (OV) SSL certificates: This level is the middle of the road option. The applicant for this certificate needs to verify themselves as well as the organization using formal documentation. This is trustworthy for entering sensitive information for some degree, though you may not want to rely on this for confidential information.
- Domain validated (DV) SSL certificates: This is considered the lowest quality SSL certificate. This certificate verifies that the person who owns the site is who they say they are. These can often draw people into a false sense of security when their protection is not all that protected.
What else do I need to know?
It’s always a good idea to look for an SSL certificate when you are browsing a website, notably when signing up for a newsletter, entering information for an account or, worst-case scenario, entering financial information. You’ll also want to consider the idea of getting an SSL certificate for your website if you have one. It will get you trust from those who are browsing and curious to get in touch. It will also give you a sense of authority as a professional in your sector, whatever that may be.