An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that confirms the identity of a website and establishes a secure connection between the web server and the visitor's browser. The main task of an SSL certificate is to encrypt the transmitted data to protect it from unauthorized access by third parties.
How SSL certificates work
During communication between a web browser and a web server, a so-called SSL handshake occurs. In this process, the SSL certificates of the browser and server are mutually verified. If the verification is successful, end-to-end encryption is established and data exchange can take place securely.
Advantages of SSL certificates
- Safety: SSL certificates protect confidential information such as credit card numbers, passwords, and customers' personal data from hackers and data thieves.
- Authentication: SSL certificates ensure that communication takes place only with the intended website and not with a fraudulent site posing as a legitimate one.
- Trust: A secure connection signals to visitors that their data is protected and increases trust in the website. Browsers display a lock symbol and the "HTTPS" protocol in the address bar to make it clear that the website is encrypted.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SSL certificates also help improve Google rankings, as Google prefers more trustworthy websites.
Types of SSL certificates
There are several types of SSL certificates, which differ in the validation level and the number of secured domains.
- Domain Validated Certificates (DV): These certificates only confirm that the domain owner is indeed the certificate applicant. They provide basic encryption and are sufficient for small websites or blogs.
- Organization Validated (OV) Certificates: OV certificates require additional checks on the organization, such as company registration. As a result, they offer a higher level of trust than DV certificates.
- Extended Validation (EV) Certificates: EV certificates go through an even more rigorous validation process and display the organization's name in the browser's address bar. They are particularly suitable for e-commerce websites and businesses where a high level of confidence in the security of data is required.
- Wildcard certificates: Wildcard certificates secure a domain and all its subdomains. They are convenient for companies and organizations with a complex web infrastructure.
- Multi-Domain Certificates (MDC): MDCs allow multiple domains to be secured under a single certificate, simplifying SSL certificate management for websites with multiple domains.