What is a secure SSL cert and why do I need one?
In one sentence, an SSL cert means that your connection between your web browser and the server that you are communicating with is secure and encrypted.
You may have noticed that some website addresses (URLs) start with https// and some with just http//
The ones that start with https//are secured by an SSL cert.
We will go into the technical aspects of SSL cert later but in the meantime let’s discuss why you need one for your website.
First of all, it provides a better customer experience.
For example, if you have a contact form on your website modern browsers such as Google’s Chrome and Firefox will display a warning before anybody submits data on it which could cost you sales.
You can also improve customer trust as they can communicate with you without any security warnings and they know that their connection is encrypted.
It can help with your search engine visibility and ranking
Google changed their ranking algorithm to favour websites that have a secure cert installed.
It confirms that you are who you say you are.
Extended validation(EV) certificates can also verify who you are by displaying your official company name in the URL bar of the site beside the secure padlock.
Do you need a secure cert if you are not selling anything?
Yes you do if only for the sake of customer trust. Without a secure cert the URL bar of any visitors web browser will display a warning saying that this website is insecure. And if they attempt to use a contact form to contact you via the website they will also be warned that other people can read this information.
How do SSL cert’s work?
When you fill in a contact form or make a purchase online your details are transmitted from your computer to the receiving Web server. The Web browser (Firefox or chrome for example) will verify that the website has a valid SSL certificate and encrypt the connection based on that. This ensures that nobody except for yourself and the website can view the communication.
This is vitally important if you don’t want anybody reading your data such as your credit card information.
If you request information from your customers (whicj just about every website does) such as a phone number or email address you need to keep keep your website secure by encrypting the browser/server communications using SSL.
What kind of SSL certificates are available?
There are several different types of secure cert available, the main ones being:
Domain Validation (DV) Certificate.
These show a green padlock in the browser showing that everything is secure and many different types are available. They are handy for websites that do not handle sensitive information.
Organization Validated (OV) Certificates.
these verify your business and generally come with a warranty. If you handle sensitive information such as customer details under GDPR you may consider purchasing one of these.
Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates
These are quite expensive to buy but are worth it in the long run as they show your business name and country in the address bar of the web browser.
In order to buy Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates you need to provide proof that you who you say you are which is then validated by the SSL company before issuing the cert.
These offer the highest level of encryption available and are the most secure.
How much do SSL cert’s cost?
Secure certs vary in price from free to over €1000 depending on the level of encryption and guarantee you wish.
What’s the difference between paid and free SSL cert?
SSL Cert Warranties
The main difference is the level of encryption and the guarantee provided by the provider.
If a free certificate does not work and valuable customer data is intercepted by hackers you will receive no compensation.
However, other certificates offer varying amounts of indemnification.
With the cheaper SSL cert’s warranty starting at $10,000 that is for most DV (domain validation certificates) all the way up to $1,750,000 for certain Digicert SSL Certs.
Warranties are only paid out if your client is the fraud it due to a failure in the SSL certificate.
For this reason, if you are selling goods online we recommend that you buy a secure cert with a guarantee rather than using a free certificate.
If your client has financial loss due to an issue with a secure cert on your website a warranty can be very handy.
How do I get a free SSL certificate?
Eirhost Web Hosting Ireland
We offer free SSL cert to all our web hosting customers in order to keep their data secure. Please note these free certificates as mentioned above do not come with any warranties.
If you are handling financial transactions you might want to purchase one of the Organisation Validated or Extended Validation certificates.
If you have web hosting with a supplier that charges for your secure certificates do not worry as you change hosting to us.
You can generate free certificates by using the following services:
This is the best known free SSL certificate provider and was created by the Linux foundation a major supporter of free software.
You can find full instructions on how to set up your own SSL cert for your web hosting here
Cloudflare are a well-known content delivery network that many websites used to increase the speed of their sites by loading content in countries local to them. They also provide a free SSL cert to anybody who signs up.
SSL for Free
SSL for Free has generated over 3 million free SSL certificates and are a not-for-profit certificate authority. As with all SSL certs they work with all major browsers.
ZeroSSL is another free certificate authority. They create SSL certificates instantly online. You can find out how to create an SSL cert using ZeroSSL here
You might find the instructions for setting up your own free SSL cert quite confusing.
Why not signup for a web hosting account with us and get your free SSL cert?
How long do SSL cert last for?
Until recently you could buy multi-year SSL Certs but for security reasons, Google has decided to no longer support certificates that have an expiry date more than one year in advance.
If you still have an existing SSL cert from before that they are still valid and will not trigger any errors.
For this reason, most SSL Certs you buy are now for one year but free certificates normally last for a few months and are renewed before expiry.
To sum up
Having a secure cert is vitally important for your website and you should go with the best protection you can afford.
If you are using a secure cert for e-commerce sites we recommend using an extended validation cert or at the very least a paid certificate that will give you warranty in the case of the cert failing and leading you liable to any actions your client may take.
If you’d like to buy an SSL cert please contact us or if you would like a free certificate set up for you by us sign up for a hosting account.
You can change hosts to us if you are already hosted elsewhere and save on your SSL certificate fees.