July 30, 2021 • Knowledge, Business
July 12, 2021 • Knowledge, Business
What is an SSL certificate? Does my website need it?
Table of Contents
Today, almost all websites use SSL certificates to increase the security of their websites. Other than an attractive appearance, the security factor often needs to be considered when building a website. Today, almost all websites use SSL certificates to increase the security of their websites.
What is an SSL, and how does it work? Why does SSL important for websites? What type of SSL is suitable for my website? This article will answer all your questions regarding SSL.
Make sure you read to the end, OK!
What is SSL?
SSL is an acronym for Secure Socket Layer, a cryptographic protocol for authenticating and encrypting data communications over a network. SSL is an important component of a website.
Why is it important? By using SSL, the data exchange that occurs on the website becomes more secure and encrypted. Google Chrome also sometimes prohibits you from accessing websites without SSL by labeling them as Not Secure.
If you install SSL on your website, the website URL will change from HTTP to HTTPS. In short, the main purpose of installing SSL is as a security in the exchange of data that occurs over the internet network.
Another term that is often mentioned when discussing SSL is TLS. SSL is deprecated and was officially replaced by TLS a while ago. What is TLS, and what is the difference between SSL and TLS?
TLS is an acronym for Transport Layer Security. TLS and SSL both secure data transfer on the website. However, TLS offers a better and newer technology because it is an upgraded version of SSL.
History of SSL and TLS Development
Here is the history of SSL development until it was updated by TLS to date as summarized by Keyfactor:
- SSL is a security protocol developed by Netscape in the 90s to secure and encrypt data communications over the internet. SSL v1.0 was never released due to security issues.
- In 1995, Netscape finally released SSL v2.0, but there are still flaws here and there.
- In 1996, SSL v3.0 was released to fix problems with SSL v2.0. This version of SSL offers incredible improvements and changes the way the internet works forever. However, in 2015, SSL v3.0 and earlier versions were deprecated.
- TLS began to be developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as an update to SSL. In 1999, TLS v1.0 based on SSL v3.0 was officially released. It comes with minor but still significant security improvements so that SSL v3.0 and TLS v1.0 did not interoperate.
- Seven years later, in 2006, TLS v1.1 was released and replaced by TLS v1.2 shortly after that, in 2008. TLS v1.1 withered before it developed as many websites upgraded from TLS v1.0 directly to TLS v1. 2.
- Eleven years later, we are finally in the era of TLS v1.3. TLS v1.3 was released in 2018 after a meticulous process through nearly 30 IETF drafts. TLS v1.3 brings significant improvements over its predecessors.
- Starting March 2020, Apple, Cisco, Cloudflare, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have discontinued the use of TLS v1.0 and TLS v1.1. TLS v1.2 and TLS v1.3 are now the still available SSL protocols.
So, TLS is an enhanced and updated version of SSL. However, most people are too familiar with the term SSL, so they still use the term.
How to tell if a Website has SSL?
How do you know if a website has SSL installed or not? When you visit a website that has SSL installed on it, there are some remarkable differences that you can see in the browser. Here are the characteristics.
URLs Begin with “https://”
If a website has SSL installed on it, the URL will start with “https://,” not “http://.” HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is a protocol specifically designed to transfer information from one device to another over the internet network.
However, HTTP is a securely unencrypted version of the protocol. The addition of the letter ‘S’ in HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) indicates that the data transfer that occurs on the website has been secured with SSL.
There is a Padlock Icon on the Address Bar
On websites with SSL installed, a padlock icon will appear on the left or right side of the Address Bar, depending on the browser you are using. For example, in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, you can find the lock icon on the left side of the Address Bar.
You can click the padlock icon to find out more information about websites and companies that provide SSL certificates. In Google Chrome, there are three choices of information that you can access, namely Certificate, Cookies, and Site settings.
SSL/TLS Certificate is Valid
Sometimes, even if a website has a URL that starts with “https://” and a lock icon in the Address Bar, the SSL certificate might have expired. The thing this means that the exchange of data that occurs on the website remains unsafe.
Indeed, cases like this are rare. But it would be better to double-check whether the SSL certificate is still valid. Especially if the website you are accessing asks for your personal information.
For Google Chrome users, checking the validity of the SSL certificate can be done by opening the Developer Tools menu. Users can access by pressing the Ctrl+Shift+I key combination and open the Security tab to find out if the certificate is still valid or has expired.
How SSL/TLS Works
Digital certificates are the core of an SSL protocol. The main purpose of this SSL certificate is to help you secure data communication from one device to another connected via the internet.
It works by providing a secure transport-layer connection between two endpoints, the server and the client. They initiate secure connections between servers, such as websites, intranets, and VPNs, with a client through a web browser, application, or email client.
SSL certificates offer adequate protection against phishing and the possibility of eavesdropping on important data through the server. Suppose a website asks for a user’s personal information. In that case, the website must have an SSL certificate to encrypt the user’s data.
If there is no SSL certificate, the connection on the website cannot be trusted and providing personal information is highly not recommended. The reason is because the personal information you provide can be used by hackers illegally.
SSL certificate has two combinations, namely public key and private key. The public key is used to encrypt the data sent, while the private key is used to decrypt the data into a format that the recipient can understand.
Benefits of Using SSL/TLS
There are many benefits that you can feel by installing an SSL certificate on your website. Here are the benefits of using SSL on a website:
Increase Website Reputation
As already discussed above, Google Chrome will label websites that still use the HTTP protocol as Not Secure, even prohibiting you from accessing those websites. In addition, a Not Secure warning will also appear when a visitor fills in personal data or information, such as username and password, personal identity, or account number.
Google indirectly forces website owners to install an SSL certificate to secure and encrypt data exchange that occurs on the website over the internet. Therefore, websites that have SSL installed will not be labeled by Google as Not Secure, making visitors feel safe in transferring data on the website.
Secure Data Transfer on the Website
Another benefit of using an SSL certificate is that you can do data exchange on the website more securely. So that the exchange of data that occurs between your device as a server and the visitor’s device as a client will be protected by a public key and a private key.
In addition, changing the URL to “https://” and the appearance of a padlock icon on the Address Bar will make visitors feel safer in accessing your website. Especially for ordinary visitors who don’t understand the technical use of SSL, the two things that are prominently displayed can make it very easy.
Improve SEO Quality
Although the main purpose of SSL is to secure the data exchange that occurs on the website, it turns out that the installation of SSL also has a positive influence on SEO quality. According to Trends Analyst from Google Webmaster, SSL is now part of the search engine algorithm.
For example, two websites who have similar content but one website activates SSL while others do not. The website with SSL will rank better in Google Search because of the SSL factor.
Indeed, SSL is only one of the many SEO parameters that Google implements. However, we highly recommend you to activate SSL on the website, especially now that many SSLs are available for free.
Types of SSL/TLS
You need to know that SSL certificates are processed by a Certificate Authority (CA), which is software specifically designed to run and provide SSL certificates. Based on their security needs, SSL certificates are divided into several types, namely:
Extended Validated (EV) SSL
EV SSL is an SSL that has the highest level of protection with the most expensive price. The characteristics of this type of SSL are the padlock icon, HTTPS, and the business name, which is displayed in green in the Address Bar.
EV SSL is usually used by business entities with legal guarantees, such as big companies or state departments. Therefore to obtain this SSL type, the domain owner must verify domain ownership by providing some legal documents.
Organization Validated (OV) SSL
For some people, the fees charged to accommodate EV SSL may be too high. Fortunately, another SSL certificate option, namely OV SSL, offers mid-level protection with a more affordable price.
You can obtain this type of SSL certificate by verifying through proof of ownership and domain legitimacy. Later, the Certificate Authority (CA) will ensure that your domain has been registered supported with some legal information such as business name, location, and others.
OV SSL is suitable for companies who can’t afford an EV SSL but still want adequate protection from SSL. The characteristics of this type of SSL are HTTPS and a green padlock icon.
Domain Validated (DV) SSL
DV SSL is an SSL certificate that offers a low level of protection as compared to EV SSL and OV SSL. The characteristics of DV SSL are HTTPS and a green padlock icon in the Address Bar.
To install this type of certificate, you do not need to provide legal documents for verification. Just enough with proof of domain ownership, namely DNS validation and active email, you can already get protection from DV SSL.
DV SSL is highly recommended for SMBs who need an SSL certificate at an affordable price. In addition, DV SSL is also suitable for testing websites or internal company sites that your employees can only access.
Unified Communication (UCC) SSL
UCC SSL, also known as Multi-domain SSL, is an SSL certificate that allows multiple domains to reside on the same certificate. UCC SSL is used to bridge data communication between multiple domains with the same owner.
UCC SSL can accommodate up to 100 domains in the same certificate. Some examples of using Multi-domain are www.example.com, www.example.co.id, mail.example.com, and shop.example.com.
Wildcard SSL is a certificate that you can use for both the main domain and subdomains. It means that if you purchase an SSL certificate for one domain, you can use the same certificate for the subdomains.
For example, if you use this type of certificate for the www.example.com domain, it can also be applied to shop.example.com or news.example.com subdomains. This way, you can save on the cost of buying additional SSL certificate.
Single Domain SSL
Unlike Multi-domain SSL or Wildcard SSL, Single Domain SSL can only be used to protect one domain. You cannot use this certificate on a different subdomain or domain, even if you own it.
For example, if you purchased a Single Domain SSL for the domain www.example.com, you cannot apply it to shop.example.com or www.example.co.id. Even so, this SSL certificate is still suitable for those of you who only have one website.
Why is SSL/TLS Important for Websites?
We asked how important SSL is for websites, and the answer is VERY IMPORTANT. This is because SSL is useful for securing your website from security threats, such as data theft.
Apart from that, there are also specific reasons why you should use SSL on your website. Here are the reasons why SSL is important for websites:
Avoid Data Theft
Using SSL on a website can protect you from the threat of data theft. SSL works by encrypting every data transfer that occurs on the website so that just no one can read the data you send or receive.
Avoid Data Transfer Errors
In addition to preventing data theft, SSL also prevents you from possible errors when transferring data. The trick is authentication, which means SSL ensures that the information you send reaches its destination instead of sending information to hackers or irresponsible people.
Increase Website Reputation
Websites with SSL installed have special notifications, such as changing the URL to “https://” and the appearance of a lock icon. This special notification is indirectly useful for increasing the reputation of your website in the eyes of visitors.
Especially if you have an online store website, an SSL-enabled website will make potential buyers more confident to shop on your website. It is further supported by the fact that Google Chrome prohibits users from visiting websites without SSL, let alone shopping.
Increase Website Ranking on Search Engine
As previously mentioned, Google prohibits users from visiting websites without SSL. This means that Google prefers websites that have an SSL certificate installed.
SSL is also one of the algorithms used by Google to rank websites on search engines. According to research by Backlinko, SSL-enabled websites tend to rank higher in search engines.
How to Choose SSL/TLS for Website
Before installing SSL on the website, the first step you have to do is determine the type of SSL certificate according to your needs. For beginners and have never used SSL at all, you can try the free SSL from Cloudflare.
After your website starts to develop, you can switch to using paid SSL type Domain Validated (DV) SSL. But if you have more than one website, we recommend using Multi-domain SSL or Wildcard SSL.
But if you have a website for an organization, then the right choice is to use Organization Validated (OV) SSL. It ensures ownership of the registered domain matches the organization name, organization location, and other important information.
As for those who run an online business or e-commerce, Extended Validated (EV) SSL is the best choice because this type of SSL certificate offers the highest level of protection.
How to Install SSL/TLS on Website
After determining the type of SSL certificate to be installed, you can immediately install the SSL certificate on your website. You can obtain SSL certificates directly from the Certificate Authority (CA).
The fees charged for an SSL certificate might vary, from free to thousand dollars, depending on the level of protection offered. You can get an SSL certificate from a Certificate Issuer, which offers various SSLs to suit your needs.
The steps to get an SSL certificate are as follows:
- Set up your server and make sure the WHOIS records are up to date and match what you sent to the CA. WHOIS records need to show your name, address, and other information.
- Create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server. You can ask the hosting company where you bought the server for help.
- Send the CSR to the Certificate Authority. CA will validate the domain along with supporting information.
- Install the SSL certificate as soon as the validation process is complete. You need to configure the certificate on the web hosting; or server if you have personal web hosting.
How quickly you receive an SSL certificate depends on the type of SSL certificate you choose and the Certificate Issuer from which you purchased the SSL certificate. Each validation process takes a different amount of time to be published.
For example, the validation process for Domain Validated (DV) SSL only takes a few minutes after being ordered to be published. In contrast, the validation process for Extended Validated (EV) SSL can take up to one week for you to use.
Can SSL/TLS Expired?
The answer is Yes, SSL certificates can expire and do not last forever. The Certificate Authority states that each SSL certificate must have a lifetime of no more than 27 months.
SSL certificates have a lifespan because any information needs to be re-validated periodically to ensure its accuracy as with any form of authentication. Things can change on the internet; websites can get sold and change hands.
When a website changes hands, the information related to the SSL certificate becomes irrelevant. The purpose of this expiration period is to ensure that the information used for SSL authentication is as current and accurate as possible.
An expired SSL certificate will make the destination website unreachable. Users who want to visit the site will receive a notification message that says, “Your connection is not private, attackers might be trying to steal your information (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards).”
Users are still given the option to continue, but it is highly discouraged to do so. It is due to the risk of cybercrime that lurks, such as malware.
Security is an important factor in building a website. Using an SSL certificate on a website is a must for all website owners.
SSL serves to secure data communications that occur on the website via the internet. It works by encrypting all transferred data so that it cannot be stolen or intercepted by other parties who are not responsible, such as hackers.
Therefore, the presence of SSL on your website is very important for security reasons. Websites that already use SSL can be recognized by the lock icon in the Address Bar and changing the URL from HTTP to HTTPS.
In addition to having a very significant impact on securing your website from the risk of cybercrime, SSL is also quite influential on website rankings in search engines. Therefore, SSL can be used as an effective SEO tool to increase website ranking on search engines.
Hopefully, this article can convince you to install SSL or consult with us on your website immediately. See you!
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