Different types of SSL Certificates (And how do they relate to a small business owner’s website)

Last month I wrote an article on SSL and why it’s time for websites to acquire an SSL certificate.

Types of SSL Certificates

What’s the best SSL Certificate for me?

In this article, I want to expand a bit more on the types of SSL Certificates out there. As a small business owner you need to know what your options are and what will work for your website.

So let’s get started

There are several types of SSL Certificates (also known as Secure Certificates) that you can choose from. They can be grouped based on:

  1. Validation level
  2. Number of secured domains/subdomains

Let’s start with what we mean by Validation level SSL certficates.

Before purchasing a SSL certificate there is a verification process that needs to happen. The type of certificate depends on the level of validation that takes place. The three main type of certificates are:

  • Domain Validated (DV) Certificates
  • Company Validated (CV) Certificates
  • Extended Validation (EV) Certificates

(DV) Domain Validated Certificates

This is easiest and cheapest certificate that a small business owner can acquire for their website. Validation to get an SSL certificate is easy and quick. And is usually done by email or adding a DNS record.

Most small business owners with a membership, forum/or and online shop  can get by with a domain validated certificate.

(OV) Organization Validation

Also sometimes referred to as a company validated certificate. It is similar to a Domain Validated certificate. However additional documentation must be provided to certify your company’s identity. The domain ownership and other information is validated through the use of public databases. Because the company’s name is validated, the organization’s name is also listed on the SSL certificate, giving added trust that both the website and the company are reputable.

You will find that most websites suggest getting an OV as the minimum for e-commerce portals. These e-commerce portals are usually much bigger than the average small business owner’s online shop. So an Organization Validated SSL certificate is  not really necessary for a small business owner website.

OVs are usually used by bigger companies that want to provide an extra layer of confidence to their visitors.

(EV) Extended Validation

As the name suggests, there is a lot more processes involved to pass validation to get this SSL certificate. EV certificates provide secure connections, verify the business’ identity, and help to prevent fraud through a thorough set of checks and validations.

A fully validated EV certificate will also display the name of the company or organization in the address bar and the address bar is displayed in green.

Most banking, finance, and big e-commerce sites use EV certificates as it offers the most popular and trusted green HTTPS address bar.

Apart from the above three choices, you also need to choose your certificate type based on domains & subdomains that you have.

SSL depending on the number Domains and Subdomains

Single Name SSL certificate

Before buying a SSL certificate it’s important to decide for what domain(s) or sub domains you need the certificate. Small business owners with a single domain to secure, just need to purchase a single name SSL certificate. This is normally what you will get when you buy a Domain Validated certificate.

E.g. if you buy a SSL certificate for mydomain.com, it will not certify any subdomains. So myforum.mydomain.com or myshop.mydomain.com will not be certified.

Note: This kind of certificate can also be used to secure only a sub-domain. Eg. you can secure only myshop.mydomain.com and not mydomain.com.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

A Wildcard SSL Certificate enables SSL encryption on unlimited subdomains using a single certificate. It will secure unlimited sub-domains of a single domain. E.g. Purchasing a Wildcard SSL certificate for mydomain.com will also allow you to secure:

  • myshop.mydomain.com
  • myforum.mydomain.com

However, it will not secure abc.xyz.mydomain.com.

Multi-domain SSL Certificate

A multi-domain SSL certificate supports different domains & subdomains. There may be limit on the domains depending on where you buy it from.

So you can secure mydomain.com, myshop.mydomain.com, myotherdomain.com, mydomain.net etc.

This kind of certificate is highly recommended for people who have multiple domains and subdomains.

In Conclusion

I have listed most of the different types of SSL certificates that you will come across. As a small business owner with say single website a Domain Validated (DV) SSL which is a single name SSL certificate will suffice.

If you have multiple websites on different domains, then I recommend getting a Domain Validated SSL for multi-domains.

And finally if your online shop or forum is running as a subdomains of your main website then I recommend getting a Domain Validated SSL with a wildcard certificate.

Does all this seem to much to you

We have launched the StressLessWeb SSL Service Package. Let us take on the grunt work and get your website SSL certified without the stress.

Contact us to get further information and get the ball rolling.