Secure Sockets Layer Certificates and Their Significance in Web Security
If you are reading this, then the chances are that you already know what an SSL certificate is, how it works and why you need to have one on your website.
You may also know the differences between HTTPS and HTTP. However, before we delve deep into the nitty-gritty details, I am tempted to remind you about the SSL certificates and their functionality.
SSL (abbreviation for secure sockets layer) certificates are the small cryptographic tools that protect a website from security breaches. These certificates are issued by specialized organizations referred to as certificate authorities.
Once the certificate is installed on a website, it will initiate SSL encrypted sessions whenever a client-server interaction occurs.
SSL encrypted sessions are the cornerstone of website security. Today, all events and reports point out that website attacks are increasing. But with the right SSL certificate, no attacker can hijack or interrupt client-server communications to steal sensitive data.
Speaking of sensitive data, owners of websites that deal with sensitive information must have an SSL certificate. Sensitive information in this regard may include credit and debit card details, health records, financial information, social security numbers, etcetera.
What is more exciting about SSL (modernly referred to as Transport Layer Security (TLS)) is that it is not only concerned with website security (although that is its primary concern).
The certificate has been handy in playing other roles, such as establishing user trust, taking center stage in boosting search engine rankings, enabling a good user experience, and helping website owners comply with various standards and regulations.
Domain Validated and Organization Validated SSL Certificates
At this point, you are convinced beyond any doubt that all websites need an SSL certificate. But do you really know which type of certificate your website needs?
There are three main types of SSL certificates, namely: Extended Validated (EV) SSL certificates, Domain Validated (DV) SSL certificates, and Organization Validated (OV) SSL certificates.
The major differentiating factor is the level of validation the certificate authority does before issuing the certificate.
Please note that all these certificates offer the same level of encryption strength, 256-bit encryption. Therefore, It matters not the type of certificate you choose. If it is the security you are looking for, any certificate will work for you.
Extended Validated SSL certificates are a story for another day. Today, our attention shifts to OV SSL certificates and DV SSL certificates. We will look at each type from an individual perspective and then spell out the key differences that exist between the two certificates. So, without much ado, let us start by looking at Domain Validated SSL certificates.
Domain Validated SSL Certificate
As I have already mentioned, All certificates feature the same encryption strengths. Domain-validated SSL certificates have 256-bit encryption.
The certificates are also highly compatible with nearly 100% of all web browsers. Website owners who would wish to validate their domains should leverage the workings of DV SSL certificates.
A single domain validation SSL certificate holds enough power to secure both www domains and non-www domains.
What differentiates this certificate from its counterparts is the simple validation procedure a website undergoes during certificate issuance.
To acquire a DV certificate, a website owner will only need to prove that they are the legitimate owner of the domain with which the certificate is to be attached.
There are three major ways of validating a domain of a website requesting a DV SSL certificate.
First, the certificate authority can use email verification. Here, the CA will email you a confirmation link. You will be required to click on the confirmation link by which the certificate authority would have verified your domain ownership. Pretty easy, isn’t it?
Secondly, the certificate authority can adopt file-based verification to verify the validity of the domain and its ownership. The CA will provide Hash data along with a Hypertext Markup Language file referred to as an authentication file.
You will be required to upload the authentication file to the root directory of your server. Upon the certificate authority finding the right authentication file on your server, your domain will have been validated, and the SSL certificate will be issued.
Lastly, the Certificate authority could also validate your domain using the domain registrar’s details. It would be best to ensure that your domain registrar’s details remain open and public. If your domain registrar’s details are kept private, the certificate authority is inclined to reject the SSL certificate issuance request.
The domain-validated SSL certificate is a perfect choice for small and medium-sized websites that only require domain encryption.
Compared with other certificate types such as EV and OV SSL certificates, the price of DV SSL certificates is comparatively lower. The certificate is also available in various forms, such as wildcard and multi-domain SSL certificates.
Reasons Why You Should Buy DV SSL Certificate
The following are some of the benefits of buying a domain-validated SSL certificate;
- Comparatively Cheap- DV SSL certificates are the cheapest on the market. They come at prices lower than those of extended validation and Organizational validation SSL certificates. If you are looking to save on your purchases price, it would be great to go for DV SSL certificates
- The certificates are issued within minutes. Therefore, you get your website protected as soon as possible
- There is no extensive paperwork involved since the CA does not ask for any during the certificate validation process.
Examples of DV SSL Certificates
- Comodo Positive SSL
- RapidSSL Certificate
- Comodo UCC / SAN / Multi-Domain SSL
- GeoTrust QuickSSL Premium
- Comodo Positive SSL Wildcard
Organization Validation SSL Certificate
OV SSL certificates are high-validation SSL certificates used to validate a company or business. The primary role of the OV SSL certificate is to offer encryption sessions to communications and transactions between a company website and users’/clients’ websites.
Organization validation SSL certificates feature 2048-bit signature and 256-bit encryption strengths, just like the other certificates.
However, the certificate is unique in its own way, especially because it displays the organization’s name on the site seal.
The fact that the namer of the organization that owns the website is indicated in the site seal is enough trust indicator that assures web visitors they are visiting a safe and legitimate website and that any information they share with the website remains confidential and out of reach by the malicious hackers.
In other words, the OV SSL certificates hold enough power to boost customer confidence which in turn helps to increase your leads, conversion rates, and revenues. Compared to the DV SSL certificate, the business-validated SSL certificate is more trustworthy.
The Validation Process of OV SSL Certificate
For you to acquire an OV SSL certificate from a certificate authority, you will need to submit all relevant documents to the CA.
The verification documents usually vary depending on the requirements of the certificate authority.
If the certificate finds the documents in line with their requirements, they will issue the certificate.
However, before verifying the documents, the certificate authority also needs to ascertain that you are the organization requesting the certificate is the legitimate domain owner.
To verify the domain, the certificate authority can use file-based verification, email verification, or use the details publicly available from the domain registrar.
Types of Documents That Might Be Needed Before Issuance of OV SSL Certificate
The following are some of the documents a certificate authority might require before issuing you an OV SSL certificate
- Banks statements
- Article of incorporation
- A legal license issued by the government
- Attestation letter approved by the CA
- Legal existence letter
- List of third-party list
The whole verification process might take two or three days, depending on the certificate authority you have entrusted to issue the certificate.
The business validation SSL certificate is a great choice if your website collects sensitive information. Social networking platforms, eCommerce stores, web browser extensions, and online financial websites need to adopt the OV SSL certificate.
Examples of OV SSL Certificates
The following are some of the most common organization-validated SSL certificates that you should consider buying;
- Digicert OV SSL certificate
- Comodo Instant SSL Pro
- Digicert Wildcard Certificate
- GeoTrust TBID Wildcard SSL
Every website needs an SSL certificate to survive in today’s era, where website attacks are the order of the day. Before you go shopping for an SSL certificate, it is prudent that you understand what your website needs are so you buy a certificate that befits those needs.
OV and DV SSL certificates are some of the common names you will meet on the certificate market. This article has explained all the fundamental details you need to know about these certificates.