Types of SSL Certificates – The Definitive Guide

There are seven types of SSL certificates, which are different by validation (OV, DV, and EV) and by a number of domains or subdomains.

You need an SSL certificate to gain your visitors’ trust, enhance your website security and boost top ranks in search engines. An SSL certificate demonstrates to your site visitors that you have their interest at heart and are doing enough to ensure their privacy and security.

We all know how insecure these internet streets have become. No day goes by without hearing of hacker attacks on various companies and websites. To safeguard yourself from surging security threats, you will need an SSL certificate, among other security measures.

cheap ssl certificate

Different Types of SSL Certificates?

Knowing that you need an SSL certificate is essential, and knowing the best SSL certificate to choose for your website is equally important. Once your website has an SSL certificate, all communications between your servers and browsers become encrypted. It is hard for hackers to bypass encrypted communications.

There are seven different types of SSL certificates. These certificates are suitable for different needs. Before you buy an SSL certificate, you must thoroughly assess your website to know its requirements and establish the type of SSL certificate that would suit it.

We have differentiate the SSL certificate types by validation and usage. Lets explore in detail below.

Types of SSL Certificates by Validation

SSL certificates vary depending on the validation level. The validation level is the degree to which a certificate authority checks the legitimacy of a person or organization requesting the certificate. The more vigorous the validation process, the more legitimate an SSL certificate will be.

There are three different types of SSL certificates based on validation levels. They are as follows:

1. Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificates

dv ssl certificate

DV SSL certificates are the cheapest of all SSL certificates. They are easy to obtain since they involve a less rigorous validation process. Website owners requesting the domain validation SSL certificate will only have to prove to the certificate authority that they are legitimate domain owners. This can be done through file validation, email, or CNAME.

Furthermore, domain owners do not have to submit documents during the certificate validation process. With DV SSL certificates, things are pretty straightforward- prove domain ownership and receive your certificate.

Because of the easy validation process, DV SSL certificates are issued within minutes. They are excellent options for small blog owners, small businesses, and freelancers.

2. Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificates

ov ssl certificate

OV SSL certificates entail a more thorough vetting process than domain-validation SSL certificates. Other than establishing domain ownership, the certificate authority checks if the organization requesting the certificate is a legitimate business.

To obtain an organization validation SSL certificate, the registrant will have to provide relevant business physical presence, operational and legal status details that prove the validity of the business. Such documents include the business name, physical address, phone number, and legal address.

Because of the rigorous vetting process, certificate authorities usually take about two or three days to issue the OV SSL certificate. Once the certificate is issued, it will display the business’s physical location in the details section’s subject line. This makes the business appear more trustworthy and legitimate in website visitors’ eyes. Organization validation SSL certificates are excellent options for small and medium-sized businesses dealing with huge customers’ sensitive data.

3. Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate

ev ssl certificate

EV SSL certificates offer the highest proof of legitimacy. The validation process of these types is even more rigorous than OV certificates.

The certificate authority will perform an extensive background check to confirm the physical address, legal status, and order details of the company requesting the certificate. Because of the comprehensive and rigorous vetting process, extended validation SSL certificates can take up to one week to be issued. These certificates are suitable for large companies that hold lots of sensitive data and transact massive amounts.

Important note: All types of SSL certificates offer the same level of security (256-bit encryption). The difference arises when other certificates give highest validation than others.

Types of SSL Certificates by Usage

SSL certificates can also be categorized based on the usage or the number of domains or subdomains they secure. The following are the various types of SSL certificates falling under this category:

#1. Single Domain SSL Certificates

single domain ssl certificate

As the name suggests, a single domain SSL certificate covers only one domain. The domain covered is specified in the certificate signing request. This type of certificate will not secure any domain or subdomain other than the one specified in the CSR.

For instance, a single domain SSL certificate will cover firstdomain.com and its subdirectories, such as firstdomain.com/blog. However, the certificate will not work on subdomains such as support.firstdoamin.com.

Because a single domain certificate only covers a single domain, it usually comes at a low price. However, the certificates might be costly and time-consuming if you want to cover many domains with several single-domain certificates.

#2. Wildcard SSL Certificates

wildcard ssl certificate

A wildcard SSL certificate is one of the best SSL certificates you should go for. It covers the primary domain and all subdomains falling under the primary domain. For instance, the certificate can cover firstdomain.com alongside all subdomains falling under it, such as support.firstdoamin.com.

To check whether your SSL certificate is a wildcard, click on the padlock icon on the address bar and click on certificate. If an asterisk key appears before the domain name, then it is a wildcard certificate. Whereas a wildcard certificate is more costly than single domain certificates, it is a cost-effective option for websites running on multiple subdomains. With these certificates, certificate installation, configuration, and renewals become easy.

The only downside of wildcard certificates is that they only cover first-level subdomains, not second-level ones. To secure different levels of domains and subdomains, you need a multi domain wildcard SSL certificate.

#3. Multi-Domain SSL Certificates

multi domain ssl certificate

You need a multi domain SSL certificate to secure multiple different level of domains. The certificates also cover subdomains falling under the main domains. The number of domains these certificates cover will vary depending on the certificate provider. A typical multi-domain SSL certificate will cover between 100 to 250 domains.

#4. Unified Communication Certificates

ucc ssl certificate

This is the predecessor of multi-domain certificates. UCC SSL certificates are primarily built to protect services and websites hosted on live communication servers and Microsoft Exchange servers. Such a certificate is ideal for Microsoft Exchange services like Owa, auto-discover, mail, etc. A site owner can secure different levels of domains and subdomains under this certificate.

What Type of SSL Certificate is good for Website Security?

You now understand the different types of SSL certificates and their features. The next big question is which certificate you should choose for your website.

The type of SSL certificate you choose for your website will depend on different factors. For instance, you should consider the number of domains you wish to secure, the level of trust means validation type you need on your website, and the SSL certificate cost. After weighing all these factors, you should pick the SSL certificate that fulfills your website needs.

Conclusion of Types of SSL Certificate

Any good website should have an SSL certificate. The certificate will boost security, earn user trust and drive website pages to the top of the search engine results pages. There are several types of SSL certificates you can choose to work with.

This article has explored these types. The certificate choice you go for should depend on your website needs. In short, before shopping for an SSL certificate, remember to analyze your website to establish the website needs and specifications you need the certificate to fulfill.

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