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Guide to Choosing an SSL Certificate

SSL Certificate – What is it?

The Secure Sockets Layer certificate, or for short SSL certificate, is a useful cryptographic protocol that serves for authenticating the identity of a website. 

Secure Sockets Layer is a data file that produces an encrypted connection between a browser and a server. When they connect, the SSL certificate is verified. That allows accomplishing a communication between them that is protected. The result is protected access to the user’s sensitive data, for instance, email address, payment specifications, and so on. In addition, only the particular user and the website are allowed to examine that info.

As a user, usually, it is very easy to identify visually if a website holds an SSL certificate or not. In case there is an added “S” appearing after “HTTP,” the website has such a digital certificate.

How does it work?

It starts when a user wants to visit your website and connect to it. If you already hold an SSL certificate installed, the server is going to transfer it to the device of the user. Next, the user’s browser is going to utilize the public key of the certificate and decide if it is genuine, and also, it will create a symmetric session key. Then the server is able, with its private key, to decrypt the symmetric session key. So now both participants have trust in each other. If it is needed, they can utilize the session key for other further decryption and encryption. This process is also commonly referred to as an SSL handshake.

Types of SSL certificates

Domain Validation (DV SSL). This type of SSL certificate is actually cost-effective, plus getting it is easy. With it, you receive a basic level of encryption and security. In order to get one, the Certificate Authority (CA) is going to check through email if actually, the one appealing for the certificate is the true owner of the registered domain name. Moreover, the CA is going to review if the email you presented is matching with the one registered for the domain in the WHOIS record. Then, you are going to receive a message, and in case your response is accurate, the DV certificate is quickly issued. Finally, you should receive it in a file that you simply add to your website. 

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The DV SSL is suitable for websites, such as portfolios, blogs, that are not operating with the sensitive data of the users.

Organization Validation (OV SSL) – This type is more pricey compared to DV SSL, and the process is more time-consuming because it’s more detailed. Moreover, the level of encryption that it offers is higher, plus it strongly authorizes the company’s integrity and legitimacy. The CA is going to check the company’s information, including name, current physical address, telephone number, and domain ownership, to prove that it is actually a reliable organization. In case the CA decides that your company is authentic, the OV SSL can be published in a few days. It is going to present the company’s name, city, and country where it exists. This certificate is suitable for larger companies and also for government agencies. 

Extended Validation (EV SSL) – This type of certificate provides a pretty strong level of encryption, security, and company integrity authentication. Yet, compared with the previous two, the EV SSL takes a longer time and is more expensive to get. The CA makes some extra steps to validate your company, such as examining legal documentation and more. Typically businesses that handle a lot of continuous transactions are the ones requiring such certificates. It is a necessity for them to ensure security for their users and make sure every payment or data transfer is protected. Such organizations are the different financial institutions, banks, global brands, government, e-commerce enterprises, tech, and more.

Understanding CAA Records for Enhanced SSL Security

CAA Records Explained Certification Authority Authorization (CAA) records are DNS records that allow domain owners to specify which Certificate Authorities (CAs) can issue SSL/TLS certificates for their domain. Implementing a CAA record adds an extra layer of security, ensuring that only approved CAs can issue certificates for your website.

The Importance of CAA Records

  • They prevent unauthorized issuance of SSL certificates by unapproved CAs.
  • They enhance domain security and help with regulatory compliance.
  • CAs must respect CAA records as of September 2017, making them a critical element of website security infrastructure.

How to Implement: To use CAA records:

  1. Go to your domain’s DNS settings.
  2. Add a CAA record with the chosen CA.
  3. Define the allowable types of certificates if needed.

Setting up a CAA record gives you greater control over the SSL certificates associated with your domain and is a simple yet effective way to bolster your website’s security

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