Do You Think Self-Signed SSL Certificate Is Worth The Risk?

Smart companies keep an eye on security measures for their data and server security and SSL is one of the top most securities that company prefers. It depends on company whether to consider security aspect or not. Many IT professionals try to cut down the cost of SSL security to lessen company infrastructure and management expenses. However, many companies prefer Self-signed certificate instead of third party SSL certificate to mitigate expenses. It can cause risk in adopting self-signed certificate instead of third party certificate because merely purchase of SSL certificate is not enough, it requires security hardware, software management, data center space, and it will increase the cost of establishing self-signed SSL certificate. If company buy SSL certificate from third party certificate, there is no need to think about additional cost while Self-signed carries hidden cost involving infrastructure and management cost.

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Self-Signed Certificate

Self-signed certificate is signed by the owner himself and deemed less authenticate in internet industry. People never trust on websites that embedded with Self-Signed certificate. The web browser issues a warning against self-signed certificate stating that third party has not verified the website. Such certificate is not capable of being revoked so it is easy to target such website for malicious intention.

Third Party Certificate

Mostly people trust security offered from third party certificate authorities. SSL certificate goes beyond mere security prospect and requires many technical perspectives. Third party certificate is necessary when a customer enters his credit card information and if the site is manipulated then all the information will pass to cyber-criminals who can easily interpret it. When it is a matter of security, third party certificate is necessary to protect the data over the internet because it ensures that the certificate is authenticate and capable to protect your site against phishing attacks.

Costs To Be Included

To provide a sturdy security, CA (certificate authority) must use alternate mechanism to avoid system failure. It ensures that CA can provide suitable authentication on demand whenever user wish to get it. Replication of infrastructure needs costly components. The cost included for infrastructure is discussed in below points.

Infrastructure Cost

  • To meet with high security standards, enterprise should have highly availability replication for the SSL system and data.
  • It requires two large data centers with two different locations; it ensures that if one data center crashes due to any reason, the other data center can take backup of it.
  • The data center should have security equipments. Generally, a well furnished data center room with connectivity and utilities cost from $1000 to $10000 per month. Moreover, it would cost more for increased bandwidth, technical support, and even the cost will be double at the time of replication of data in two data centers.

The above three points clearly indicate that protecting SSL encryption and authentication require more infrastructure cost that a normal or small business cannot afford.

Hardware Cost

To manage security you need a hardware security module for every data center that is a secure crypto processor. It allows managing digital keys and it authenticates private keys in a PKI SSL protocol. Hardware security module creates public and private key and stores them from being interpreted. It also allows company to manage sensitive information. The cost of such module is ranging from $13000 to $30000. To achieve object of replication of data center, any SSL infrastructure will need two hardware security modules for each data center.

Personnel & Certificate Management

If we talk about management of self-signed Certificate, it requires skilled people and governing policy for proper management of self-signed certificate. It requires a proper plan to follow SSL protocol otherwise; anyone can take such certificate and misuse it.

Organization need to consider the domain ownership and set up processes carries with prescribed policies. CSR made for a specific domain must be authenticated person to approve it additionally web-based applications that are allow creating and approving a certificate by delegated authority and should have smooth interface. It takes lot of time to automate SSL security with manually process that requires also high skilled employees. There should be use of tools and alerts to make aware user about certificate expiry, renewal, etc. The expiration of self-signed certificate needs extra patches and a lot time, and it will make negative impact on customers when they observe expired certificate. Further, it is quite expensive to retain skilled personnel for certificate management tasks. Without storing keys to hardware, nobody can count existing keys, and if the hardware is compromised, you cannot judge whether the keys are safe or exploited.

Other Risks

A security risk during encryption and decryption process makes it difficult to revoke Self-signed certificate in mismanaged condition. In web-based transactions, the trust is necessary to obtain otherwise; it will damage your revenue growth. The money back guarantee that a third party offers in case of data breach attracts customers. Many times employees ignore warning of self-signed certificate and attach mistrust certificates to their browsers.

Come To The Conclusion

If we see an overall cost related to various components we find that self-signed certificate is very costly compare to third party certificate. Below is the cost comparison of self-signed certificate and third party certificate.



SSL Certificate

No cost

$100- $250 per cert

Replicated Data Center facility

$24K- $240K


Hardware security module with software & maintenance fees

$26K- $60K


Management/Personnel cost

$100K for employee



$150K- $400K annually

$100K- $250K per 1000 certificates

Therefore, it is advisable to go for third party trusted SSL certificate to save money and enjoy peace of mind with the support of expertise and trusted brand.


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