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What are SSL certificates?

What are SSL certificates?

Overview
SSL certificates are digital certificates that authenticate your website’s identity and allow for secure transmission of sensitive information.

Definition

SSL certificates are digital certificates that authenticate your website’s identity and allow for secure transmission of sensitive information, such as credit card data. SSL certificates allow browsers to encrypt data in a way that makes it unreadable to potential third-party eavesdroppers and other malicious entities.

If you are an online merchant, they form a vital security component, not only reassuring potential customers of the your website’s legitimacy and security, but also helping make your site PCI DSS-compliant

As shown below, web browsers display standard SSL certificates by showing a green “lock” icon and “https” in green text. Extended validation (EV) SSL certificates also include the company name in green.   

How they work

“SSL” refers to “serial socket layer," and SSL certificates use a public and a private key together to encrypt data. When a browser attempts to send sensitive data to a web server, that browser uses this certificate to create a secure connection.

Any data sent over this connection can only be deciphered with both the public key and the private key. The private key is known only to the the web server’s operators; not even the SSL certificate issuer or certificate authority (CA) responsible for issuing the SSL certificate knows the private key.

SSL certificates contain the following information:

  • The certificate holder's name

  • The certificate's serial number and expiration date

  • A copy of the certificate holder's public key

  • The digital signature of the certificate-issuing authority

Types of SSL certificates

SSL certificates are available in several different varieties, and the method of acquiring each varies. The types available from a certificate authority (CA) are listed below: 

  • Standard: The lowest level of validation

  • Wildcard: Validates one domain and an unlimited number of subdomains

  • Multi-domain: As implied, validates multiple domains and subdomains

  • Premium: Slight upgrade over standard SSL certificates

  • Extended Validation (EV): Highest class of validation, favored by eCommerce

  • Multi-domain EV: As above, but validates multiple domains and subdomains

For assistance

Our Sales Team is happy to help identify your needs and provide information as needed If you wish to purchase a standard SSL certificate, either contact our Sales Team, or follow the instructions provided in How to purchase standard SSL certificates.

If you are a Nexcess client and already have a SSL certificate, you may use SiteWorx to install it. See How to install SSL certificates in SiteWorx for more information.


For assistance acquiring a SSL certificate, contact our Sales Team, available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. eastern time (ET), Monday through Friday. 

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