Buying SSL can be confusing at first if you’re coming at it blindly. There are multiple types available, and SSL websites don’t always explain the difference between them very well. If you’ve found yourself at a loss when picking an SSL for encrypting your site, don’t sweat it — you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to break down the types of SSL certificates available and which ones we recommend for particular domains.
SSL certificates can be broken down into two key criteria: the number of domains and subdomains that need to be secured and the validation level. Let’s take a look at each criterion separately.
The number of domains you have
There are three categories of SSL when it comes to the number of domains you have. They are:
- Single domain SSL: This is the perfect choice if you have just one site you need to protect.
- Multi-domain SSL: This SSL is ideal if you have more than one site (3-100).
- Wildcard SSL: This is a great option if you have one domain with multiple subdomains attached. You can even create unlimited subdomains down the line, and they’ll be automatically protected.
Your required validation level
Before receiving your SSL, the issuing Certificate Authority (CA) needs to verify you or your company’s existence in some capacity. It does this through various checks, the comprehensiveness of these checks being dependent on the validation level you opt for. There are three main validation levels.
- Domain validation (DV): The simplest form of validation, you only need to prove that you have access to your website’s admin email.
- Organization validation (OV): The CA will perform several more checks, including verifying the existence of your organization.
- Extended validation (EV): This validation level requires the most verification. The CA will likely cross-check government records and contact your business premises directly.
The more validation checks a CA performs, the more information about your company will be available in the SSL itself. This information can be accessed by clicking on the padlock symbol in the address bar of your site.
How to use this information
Now that you know the two key criteria of SSL certificates, how do you know which one you should choose? The first one is easy — just count the number of domains or subdomains you have! If you currently have one website but are likely to create subdomains in the future, a Wildcard is your best bet.
Validation level is a little less straightforward. How do you know which level is necessary? Typically, the more you ask a user to do on your site, the higher validation level you should choose. For a static portfolio site where a user will simply view your content, a DV SSL is fine. But for an e-commerce site, people will be registering and using their credit card information and handing over all sorts of personal data. So you’ll probably want to go for either an OV or EV SSL. If users feel doubtful about who’s behind the site, they’ll be able to click on the padlock symbol to find out more information, bringing peace of mind.
When you learn just a little more about them, SSL certificates are not as complicated as they first seem. Using the information outlined in this article, you’ll definitely pick the perfect one for your website.