SSL certificates – the “s” in “https://,” – is responsible for making sure that the data transmitted among them is safe and private by connecting a cryptographic key to the site owner’s details and creating an encrypted link between the web server and browser. While there are several types of SSL certificates available on the market (either from a web hosting provider or a third-party service, depending on your site’s needs), it’s important to learn about them before buying.

In this article, we’ll give a brief overview of SSL certificates – what they are, the types of SSL certificates that are offered, how to be safe with them, and how they work. Then, we’ll uncover 10 of the best SSL certificate providers to consider for your business in 2021. Afterwards, we’ll conclude with what factors to look for when considering which SSL certificates to use.

What is an SSL Certificate?

When starting an online business, you might come across something called a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This certificate helps your website stay secure, even as you run an eCommerce site (whether you’re selling products or services). So, whenever you’re running two machines, the certificate should be able to encrypt the data stream that’s going between those machines.

Nowadays, data encryption is needed, so that every eCommerce transaction made on a site are secure. Therefore, investing in a recognized SSL certificate allows you to manage your site’s data encryption.

This is especially important, since search engines like Google are very strict with which websites are deemed safe, and which ones are deemed fraudulent. So, if you don’t invest in an SSL certificate, you’re running the risk of the following:

  • Your site will be vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals.
  • Your site will get penalized by search engines like Google.
  • Consumers will not trust your site with their time and their money.

Now, while there’s a significant need for SSL certificates to encrypt and protect data, there’s no guarantee that the server will work for you, or if a certain certificate is worth investing in. Therefore, many companies use to work with a trusted third party – a so-called certificate authority – to get issued the right SSL certificate, while being charged a fee for it.

Types of SSL Certificates

Now, it’s important to note that not all SSL certificates are created equal. In fact, SSL certificates are categorized into 3 categories:

  • A Domain-Validated (DV) Certificate is ideal for internal projects, but not so for the open web.
    • Either cheap or free of charge
    • Caution must be exercised whenever websites use this certificate
  • An Organization-Validated (OV) Certificate is for businesses and organizations that already have some form of governing authentication, which makes verification simple.
    • Organizations are asked to provide proof of validation
    • This is a certificate that’s only for a commercial website
  • An Extended Validation (EV) Certificate is the most-trusted level of SSL certificates, since it’s thorough and strict in its operations.
    • Verification is uncommon with this certificate
    • Identifying the legal entity that controls the site must be determined and published before this certificate is issued
    • Most modern web browsers show a green Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to indicate the use of an EV certificate.

As you keep in mind the three categories of SSL certificates, you should also know that such certificates come in two variations:

  • A single-domain certificate is used for a single website.
    • Protects that one site
    • Cheaper, compared to the wildcard certificate
    • Effective, if you want an EV certificate (This is because of how and where it’s used)
  • A wildcard certificate is for when you want to protect multiple sub-domains.
    • The “cousin” to the single-domain certificate
    • More expensive than its cousin (though, a volume discount might be given to you, depending on the provider that you buy the certificate from)

How To Ensure Web Security

Having an SSL certificate should ensure that your site is safe for people to visit and use. However, even as you use an SSL certificate (no matter the type and variant), you’ll still keep to ensure that your site has the 3 visual signs of a secure site:

  • The URL of your website in the browser address bar should start with either “http” or “https.” Though, the “s” in “https” indicates that the site is secure.
  • The address bar should also have a close lock/padlock icon along with the URL.
  • An SSL site seal on a website means that a legitimate CA had verified the site, and issued the SSL certificate.

How SSL Works

Investing in an SSL certificate for your website is more than just making sure that your website is secure. In fact, there’s a process that goes into establishing an SSL connection between the web browser and the server – this process is called the “SSL Handshake.”

In the SSL Handshake, there are three keys used to establish a connection – public, private and session. And, it’s with this connection that’s encrypted with a public key, which can, in turn, be decrypted only with a private key. That means that an encrypted private key can be decrypted only with a public key.

With that said, here’s how the SSL Handshake works:

  • First, the browser connects to the secure website, and asks for server identity.
  • The server then sends you its SSL Certificate copy with its public key.
  • Then, the browser verifies that the SSL certificate isn’t expired or revoked, and came from a trusted CA.
  • When given the “all-clear,” the browser creates, encrypts, and sends back a session key by using the server’s public key.
  • The receiving server decrypts the session key with its private key.
  • Then, the receiving server acknowledges the session key.
  • The server can then start encrypting the session key.
  • By now, the transmitted data between browser and server is encrypted with the session key.

List of Top SSL Certificate Providers

Check out below some top SSL certificate providers who are offering best services and cheapest prices. This list helps to choose best SSL certificate provider to secure your website across the Internet.

#1 Namecheap

NameCheap offers SSL certificates, regardless of budget or requirements. It’s best deals revolve at the Standard Domain Validation certificates.

Key features include:

  • SSL replacement free of charge
  • Various SSL certificate types to choose from
  • State-of-the-art SHA algorithm
  • Advanced web security (with 256-bit encryption)
  • 30-day refund guarantee

#2 GoDaddy

Despite its initial reputation as a domain registrar, GoDaddy also offers SSL certification services online. With quick issues, this provider is also vigorous with its commitment to web security with 256-bit encryption.

Key features include:

  • Padlock icon visible in the address bar
  • Security seal display
  • Free reissues that are unlimited
  • 24/7 support
  • Liability protection of up to $1 million

#3 The SSL Store

The SSL Store offers a wide range of website security solutions, thanks to its partnership with some of the biggest Certification Authorities – the CAs. From Standard Domain Validation certificates – the Positive SSL – to Organization Validated, to Extended Validation certificates, the SSL Store has you covered.

Key features include:

  • Compare and contrast different CAs
  • Hooks you up with affordable prices
  • Tech support with dedicated account managers
  • 30-day refund guarantee

#4 SSL.com

A top-rated certificate authority, SSL.com offers various digital certificates such as SSL/TLS server and S/MIME email certificates. It also offers numerous features that helps make web security flawless and effective.

Key features include:

  • 256-bit SHA2 https AES encryption
  • Free site seal
  • 24/7 support (phone, chat, and email)
  • Unlimited server license and reissues
  • A warranty of up to $2 million
  • 30-day refund guarantee

#5 DigiCert

If you’re a Fortune 500 or Fortune 100 company, then DigiCert is your one-stop destination for SSL certificates. DigiCert offers various standard products such as OV and EV SSL certificate variations, and even advanced solutions such as post-quantum cryptography security. This company strives to improve the way that certificates are used to benefit online users by keeping their communications secure.

  • Specializes in Wildcard SSL certificates
  • Issues SSL certificates right away
  • Has Norton trust seal
  • Always testing new SSL technologies

#6 Sectigo

Like Namecheap, Sectigo is an affordable SSL certificate provider. As a result, their market share has grown rapidly, and has made them one of the most sought-after sellers in the industry. From single and multiple domains, to Wildcard, to organization validation, Sectigo has it all!

Key features include:

  • Affordable pricing for any budget
  • Certificate managers that understand customers
  • Various types of SSL certificates available

#7 Wix

One of the free options for SSL certificates, Wix offers a solution for online businesses from various industries by providing users with many tools to help them optimize their site, including free web hosting, advanced SEO features, and the ability to register their domain name. And, Wix takes web security seriously by automatically equipping SSL certificates that are free and protect visitors’ data at all times.

  • Free SSL certificate on the spot
  • Safe and secure web-hosting platform
  • Validation automatic and easy

#8 GeoTrust

GeoTrust allows users to acquire various SSL certificates and other products, including Single-Domain, Wildcard, and Extended Validation certificates. It even offers discounts for any and almost every certificate that you’re shopping for, while providing tailored solutions to whichever firm that your business belongs to – governmental organization, financial institution, or healthcare.

Key features include:

  • A subsidiary of DigiCert (as mentioned earlier)
  • Options for bulk-purchasing
  • Tailored solutions
  • Warranty guaranteed for up to $1.5 million

#9 Entrust

Entrust provides security to various industries, especially for those looking for transactional security, secure mobile authentication, and SSL certificates.

Key features include:

  • Algorithms with SHA-2 signing
  • RSA 2048 bit / 3072 bit / 4096 bit key
  • Server licensing and reissues that are unlimited
  • Real-time site seal security

#10 Thawte

Finally, Thawte has taken the global market by storm by being one of the best SSL certificate providers in the industry. With its parent company Digicert, Thawte strives to provide solutions to medium-sized businesses and small enterprises.

Key features include:

  • Fast issuance time (in under 3 days)
  • Basic plans are easy to set up
  • Unlimited server licensing
  • Up to $1.5 million in warranty protection

Before Buying An SSL Certificate

So, now that you’ve been introduced to 10 of the best SSL certificate providers, it’s important to be aware of what you’re getting into, when buying a certificate. While you might be focused on the cost, you might still make mistakes during the buying process. Not looking at this investment in a wider spectrum can result in cost implications and scratched-out plans for your website.

Therefore, you’ll need to consider the factors before picking and purchasing the right SSL certificate provider. Such factors include:

  • The trial period, when you can test your purchase, and determine whether or not it’s a good investment
  • How compatible the SSL certificate is to your browser compatibility (especially if you’re still running Windows 7 or older release on your computer)
  • The timeframe that the certificate is issued (even when there are deadlines involved)
  • How much you trust the provider, to ensure that your certificate can match your website’s needs with top-notch security and 100% trust. If the certificate does a good job in ensuring safe financial transactions, for example, then it’s warranted as a trustworthy source.
  • How the provider shows off its Trust site seal to the public. Thus, customers can safely explore a certain website
  • Equipped with an SSL support team, whenever situations with the SSL certificate are critical
  • The refund policy of the chosen SSL certificate provider, if a business isn’t satisfied with the certificate that they’ve purchased – While situations like this are rare, it’s better for a business to be safe than sorry, when investing in an SSL certificate.

Conclusion

All in all, SSL certificates ensure that data can move across the Internet safely by being encrypted and out of hackers’ reach. As you saw from the overview, it’s important to have that layer of protection for everyone running and using your website. And, since it’s essential to have SSL certificates to keep cybercriminals at bay, consider trying out these best SSL certificate providers, and see which one is right for you!

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