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SSL certificates. What they are and what they are for

What is an ssl certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol that enables the 'transmission of information in an encrypted and secure manner. With an SSL certificate, therefore, you can protect your website users data by preventing third parties from intercepting and reading the information transferred.


What are SSL certificates used for?

Every time we visit a website, our browser and the server on which the site is hosted exchange data. Among the most sensitive of these are the user's details and credit card data (if the site in question is an e-commerce site). If this exchange does not take place in a secure manner, it is possible that the data may be intercepted by unauthorised third parties and then used for illicit purposes.

To prevent the risk of cybercrime, they are used:

  • the HTTPS protocol
  • SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology

Thanks to the issuing of an SSL certificate by a certification body, the information exchanged between the browser and the server is encrypted, making it virtually uninterceptable.

A domain with an associated SSL certificate is a guarantee of authority and reliability in the eyes of users.


Is it compulsory to have an SSL certificate?

Is having an SSL certificate mandatory for all websites? The answer is no, SSL is not compulsory, but its use is highly advisable for a whole host of reasons.

As we have seen, the SSL protocol ensures the reliability and security of a website by encrypting information and communications exchanged over the Internet.

This is especially important for sites selling products online. With an SSL certificate, customers are safeguarded and protected when transacting and exchanging sensitive data. This makes them more likely to make a purchase.

Another aspect of fundamental importance concerns Google, the world's most famous search engine. For some time now Google has considered the use of HTTPS or SSL as a ranking factor. Since October 2018 Google Chrome, Google's browser, has started highlighting unsecure sites because they lack an SSL certificate, effectively requiring any website to use HTTPS or SSL.


How to recognise a site that uses an SSL Certificate

To recognise a website that has an SSL Certificate enabled and correctly installed, look for the website address on the browser's navigation bar.

  • Sites starting with "http://" are not secure because they do not have an SSL Certificate: they transmit data in plain text and do not guarantee a secure connection to the visitor.
  • Sites starting with "https://" are secure because they have an SSL Certificate that allows them to transmit encrypted data that cannot be understood by third parties.

In addition, sites that use an SSL Certificate are recognisable by the presence of a padlock to the left of the web address.

SSL Certificates

SSL Certificates: which to choose

SSL certificates are issued by accredited certification authorities. In some cases they are also responsible for assessing the site of the company requesting the SSL certificate.

SSL Certificates are not all the same, there are different types of certificate and each one provides a different level of security.
There are 3 main types of SSL certificates:

  • Domain Validated (DV)
  • Organization Validated (OV)
  • Extended Validated (EV).
  1. Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificate: This is the cheapest and quickest to obtain because it does not require an in-depth audit; the certificate authority will only verify that the applicant is indeed the owner of the domain.
  2. Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificate Organization Validated (OV): This requires a longer waiting period because it is issued after a thorough analysis of the applicant company. It is the best certificate for businesses and small e-commerce sites to guarantee secure transactions for users.
  3. SSL Certificate Extended Validated (EV) is able to guarantee maximum security on the identity of the site and the reliability of the company. Those who have chosen this type of certificate are easily recognisable by the presence of a green bar containing the name of the applicant company. Because of these characteristics, the EV SSL certificate is the best choice for large e-commerce sites and high brand identity companies.

In any case, regardless of the type of SSL chosen, if we find https:// (instead of http://) in the site url we will have the certainty of secure browsing.

Swizzonic.ch offers all types of SSL certificates including:

  • SSL certificates Wildcards which allow you to protect not only the domain but also subdomains
  • SAN/UCC SSL certificates  which allow you to protect with a single SSL certificate, several domains belonging to the same applicant company.

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