Secure Sockets Layer: Free VS Paid VS Wildcard
Nowadays, users are expecting you to store their data as safely and securely as you do with your own. After all, you’re not supposed to trust your sensitive data (like accounts, passwords, banking details, among others) with just anyone. This is why it’s crucial that websites have their own Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). You can choose from three types of SSLs: free, paid, and wildcard. However, keep in mind that an SSL makes HTTPs available for any website. This means each certificate will provide you with the same 2048-bit RSA level of protection or encryption. Still, there are other advantages and disadvantages to each of them. Here’s a few of them:
When you acquire a free SSL, you’ll receive a Domain Validation (DV) certificate. This acts as the most basic authentication for your visitors. Essentially, SSLs tell users that they are, indeed, on a page from the site they intended to browse with a free SSL. However, you’re not providing them with a symbol that can guarantee that you’re a real company or business. Unfortunately, this doesn’t prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage of the automated authentication process. This is why most companies actively advise users to carefully select which websites to trust. A few websites who commonly use SSLs are blogs and other forms of small websites.
Another major downside to opting for a free SSL is its complete lack of technical support. Once you or your site visitors encounter issues, your web developers are expected to troubleshoot on their own. This essentially forces you to resort to crowdsourcing or reading forums and blog posts. This is undoubtedly one of the most time-consuming solutions out there, making it one major flaw of the service. Moreover, if you choose to obtain a free SSL, you’ll need to renew it every three months. For most companies and teams, this only adds a layer of inconvenience throughout the entire process/
Once you’ve paid for your SSL, you will receive a certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA) in addition to the DV. Commercial CAs will also conduct thorough investigations before providing business authentication. Furthermore, you can also acquire an Organization Validation (OV) certificate and an Extended Validation (EV) certificate.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to provide valid business documents before you receive an OV from your CA. Simply put, this is how your clients tell that you’re a legally registered company. Moreover, take note that contrary to the DV’s verification process, CAs perform the investigations manually. This is in order to almost completely eliminate the probability of phishing websites’ becoming approved. After 2 days, your site will then have a Secure Site Seal that helps boost your users’ trust in your website. On the other hand, most online businesses choose to undergo a more in-depth authentication process in order to acquire EVs. This way, regardless of your site visitors’ experience with websites, they can easily identify that yours is as credible as it could be.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that commercial website owners, who invest in websites for their value, prefer purchasing paid SSL services. This is due to the fact that most companies who provide paid SSL services also offer 24/7 support. Therefore, with the right web hosts who take your website’s ranking into consideration, you can efficiently resolve any issues you may encounter. Plus, you also gain the added bonus of having the opportunity to prevent this and any other issues in the future.
In addition to providing an SSL to a domain name, some companies have the added responsibility of securing their sub-domains as well. So, it’s much better to subscribe to a Wildcard SSL instead of acquiring each sub-domain its own individual certificate. This allows you to save time in contrast to having to manage them all when you first purchase them—and again when it’s time to renew the SSL certificate. Furthermore, it also indirectly boosts your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) since it focuses the rankings of the multiple sub-domains towards a single domain.
While the downside to having a Wildcard SSL is that it doesn’t come with an EV certificate, you can still acquire an OV for it. Moreover, remember that any downtime can significantly cost you—especially if your website serves as your primary lead generating tool. Therefore, if you’re aiming to run multiple sub-domains with the same quality technical support you get from Paid SSLs, going for a Wildcard SSL will be your best bet.
Which SSL Certificate Would You Choose?
With the growing number of individuals and teams who use the Internet, it’s best to prioritize your website’s security. Identify which SSL certificate is best for your website by carefully analyzing how your website is expected to operate. Will you be handling any sensitive data? How many domains and sub-domains will you be running?