SSL Certificates: Verifying Websites & Encrypting Connections

The current century is a witness to a plethora of websites, online forums, e-commerce platforms, and even digital currency. But have you ever tried to verify the authenticity of an online portal?

It’s important to recognize the fact that every information you throw on the internet is subjected to multiple levels of privacy infractions and phishing attacks. For that account, it’s an utmost need to be vigilant about SSL certificates, which are substantiated labels of identity and reliability.

Here is a comprehensive guide that illustrates details about SSL certificates and their significance in the present infodemic era.

What is an SSL certificate?

Security Sockets Layer(SSL) certificates are authentication proof of the website’s identity and its privacy protocols. It is a security feature that establishes a cryptographic tie-up between a web server and a web browser, encrypting every information that passes through this funnel.

These are mostly deployed by e-commerce platforms or any forum that asks for user’s personal information such as ID proofs, residential addresses, digital accounts access, credit card details, legal or medical documents.

SSL certificates are issued by Competent Authorities(CAs) or Browser Forums that work following the regional laws and digital standards set by the national authorities.

How to assess the level of security?

One should be very keen-eyed while checking in a website; not every SSL-certified website is secure. There are grades to it, defined by the type of certificate.

Extended Validation Certificates: This is the supreme level of SSL security. It is mostly opted by corporate firms and websites that include money dealings.

CAs conduct a 360-degree analysis to validate the identity of the owner,  verification of legal documents that confer exclusive rights of the domain, and cross-examination via a third-party database.

Users can identify EV SSL-certified platforms by the padlock, HTTPS, business name in green, and the country name on the address bar. Currently, DigiCert offers the most secure SSL certificates that safeguard financial transactions worth millions.

Organization Validated certificates: These are deployed by moderately secured sites that do not involve the transfer of sensitive data. Thus, relatively easy to gain with organization and domain verification.

Domain Validated Certificates: It is the least security assuring certificate; DV SSL is majorly used by blogs and content websites that do not ask for any sort of credentials from the visitor. These are easily gained by an email from the CA, without much substantiation.

Wildcard SSL: This is a versatile method of protection that secures a base domain with multiple sub-domains with a singular certificate.

It is always advisable to check the address bar, closed padlock emblem, and HTTPS configuration of the website that depicts its OV or EV certification before proceeding with online payment.

Do SSL certificates last life-long?

No. SSL certificates are issued for a maximum period of 27 months. This provision ensures the timely update of the integrated information and re-authentication in cases of ownership disputes.

Once it expires, the website loses all its encryption features and connection with the hosting server. Visitors receive a warning message such as “This site is not secure. Potential risk ahead” before proceeding further with these websites.

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