Introduction to SSL / Secure Certificate

Introduction to SSL / Secure CertificateWebHostingPeople

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is a set of cryptographic protocols commonly used for  encrypting the data being sent between a server and a user visiting a website.  While most websites don’t require this advanced security, it is essential for others.  The following introduction to SLL and Secure Certificates will help determine whether or not you require this type of security, and show how you can obtain it.

What is Required

In order to use SSL, you will need to acquire a SSL Certificate (AKA a Secure Certificate) and have it installed on your server.  If you are an WebHostingPeople client, our technical staff can help with this installation.  In addition, you’ll need a dedicated IP address.  Finally, visitors to your website will need to use a modern web browser that supports SSL.  Virtually all browsers today do support it, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

What is it Used For?

This technology is most often used for websites that want the ability to accept credit card payments directly on the website.  All credit card companies require any site directly accepting these payments to have this type of advanced security *Note that you can have third party processors like PayPal on your site without the use of SSL.  SSL is also a requirement for a website to become PCI compliant, which is important for some specific types of companies.

The other reason some website owners want to use SSL is because they have confidential information stored on their website, which should only be accessed by authorized users.  The SSL can help protect usernames and passwords from being compromised, so the data on the website is much safer.

Types of Security Certificates

When looking into adding SSL to your website, you’ll have several different options to choose from.  Each type of security certificate is designed for different types of businesses.  If you need assistance choosing the right certificate for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to our technical support team.  The following are the different options to consider:

  • Shared Certificates – These certificates are not registered to a single domain or company name, and are shared between many sites, typically based on the hosting company.  The advantage is that you don’t have to pay to get the certificate yourself, as you’re just part of a group that is sharing it.  The disadvantage is these certificates often trigger browser security pages, and you normally can’t access the SSL technology from your main domain name.  This is a good option if you want the added security just for yourself, but not the general public users of your page.
  • Domain Validated Certificate – This type of certificate is registered to your specific domain name.  This is commonly used for accepting credit card payments and validating usernames and passwords.  This provides excellent security for any individual website.
  • Company Validated Certificate – This option is similar to the domain validated certificate, except it is tied to the company rather than just the domain.  This can provide some added benefits, but does require additional documentation concerning the company applying for the certificate.
  • Extended Validation Certificates – These certificates actually provide added checks and validations to combat fraud.  This higher level of security is required for certain businesses that have financial transactions or host highly sensitive data.
  • Wildcard Certificates – This option provides the security certificate for a main domain name, plus all subdomains that have the same second level domain name.  If, for example, you run a lot of ‘how to’ sites with domains such as, ‘auto.howto.com’ ‘home.howto.com’ and so on, this would be the best option if you need SSL.

Getting a Security Certificate

If you decide that your site or company requires a security certificate, the first thing you’ll want to do is reach out to our support team and open a ticket.  Explain that you would like to get a security certificate installed on your server.  Our technical support team will work with you to ensure your hosting package meets all the requirements, and if it doesn’t, we’ll help you get everything setup the way it needs to be.  In many cases, our technical teams can also help you through the process of obtaining a security certificate as well.

Keep in mind; this is an advanced security technology that is not required for most general websites.  If you’re not sure whether or not you need one, don’t hesitate to ask.  We can discuss your specific situation and help you make the right decision about SSL.

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