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What Are SSL Certificates? Why Is It So Important For Every E-Merchant To Have Them?

Not all SSL certificates are the same and each type is different in some way. In this short article we will highlight some the key features of SSL encryption, dedicated SSL, shared SSL, wildcard SSL and free SSL certificates.

When choosing a SSL for your online business it is worth while taking a little time to consider and research what type of SSL certificate you require and what you can afford.

There are many different types of certificates and they vary in price. The main types of SSL are dedicated, shared, wildcard and free. With lots of suppliers of SSL’s online it pays to shop around.

Dedicated SSL Certificates

Dedicated SSL’s are assigned specifically to the domain name of your website. So in order to obtain a dedicated certificate you have to have your own unique domain ending, for example, in.com or.co.uk. Prices of domain names vary but there are plenty of domain registrars online. With a dedicated certificate it is not shared with any another domain name, and these do not usually provide SSL protection for website sub-domains other than www.

A Dedicated SSL is one of the most expensive SSL’s to purchase.

Shared SSL certificates

Unlike the dedicated certificates, where you have your own domain name and your own unique certificate, shared SSL certificates are exactly what they sound like: Shared.

You will normally find shared SSL’s are supplied by web hosts for their customers to use. They tend to have a generic name and as such your domain wont be displayed when this type of shared SSL is in use. Web hosts do tend to offer these for free.

You can also attach your website to someone elses SSL certificate. However, this does mean that when a visitor to your website wants to check the authenticity of your site the SSL of your website and the name on the certificate will not match. Who ever owns and purchased the certificate will have his or her details shown. In most modern browsers this will normally cause the browser to show an error page warning the person not to continue.

Please note that you can’t “just use” another website’s SSL. The system would have to be set up to use it.

Another issue will arise if you wish to change your website host. The likelihood of being able to transfer you websites SSL protection with you may not be possible.

Wildcard SSL certificates

If your website has what is called sub domains e.g.: customer.mysite.com or secure.mysite.com and you wish for them to be protected with your SSL certificates then you would need a wildcard SSL to guarantee that all your sub domains are all secure. A wildcard SSL will allow you to protect unlimited subdomains with just the one SSL.

If you don’t need to secure multiple subdomains and now exactly what subdomains you need it may be cheaper to have these added to a normal SSL certificate. Any reputable SSL supplier/reseller will advise you of this.

You should also remember that the market leading SSL suppliers secure mysite.com and http://www.mysite.com by default with their standard certificates. You would not need a wildcard certificate just to secure the www subdomain.

Free SSL certificates

It is possible to get free ones but please note that you get what you pay for and a free SSL certificate may not be as secure as a paid version. Free SSL’s do not always have the necessary level of encryption or service to keep your website secure that the paid for certificates have.

Another thing to consider is be careful where you obtain a free one from as they may not be legitimate and may only cause more harm than good!

There are some very reputable companies that offer free ones but just keep it simple and do your research.

It is also possible to get free trial certificates from most SSL suppliers. These certificates are fully functional certificates but are time limited to between 30 and 60 days.

When shopping for a SSL another thing to think about is the level of security offered. Industry standard at present is the 128 bit encryption and and increased level of 256 bit encryption is also available. Many certificates will automatically encrypt at the higher level if it is possible. For obvious reasons the higher the bit encryption number, the better the security the SSL certificate will provide.

Dedicated SSL Certificates

Dedicated SSL’s are assigned specifically to the domain name of your website. So in order to obtain a dedicated certificate you have to have your own unique domain ending, for example, in.com or.co.uk. Prices of domain names vary but there are plenty of domain registrars online. With a dedicated certificate it is not shared with any another domain name, and these do not usually provide SSL protection for website sub-domains other than www.

A Dedicated SSL is one of the most expensive SSL’s to purchase.

Shared SSL certificates

Unlike the dedicated certificates, where you have your own domain name and your own unique certificate, shared SSL certificates are exactly what they sound like: Shared.

You will normally find shared SSL’s are supplied by web hosts for their customers to use. They tend to have a generic name and as such your domain wont be displayed when this type of shared SSL is in use. Web hosts do tend to offer these for free.

You can also attach your website to someone elses SSL certificate. However, this does mean that when a visitor to your website wants to check the authenticity of your site the SSL of your website and the name on the certificate will not match. Who ever owns and purchased the certificate will have his or her details shown. In most modern browsers this will normally cause the browser to show an error page warning the person not to continue.

Please note that you can’t “just use” another website’s SSL. The system would have to be set up to use it.

Another issue will arise if you wish to change your website host. The likelihood of being able to transfer you websites SSL protection with you may not be possible.

Wildcard SSL certificates

If your website has what is called sub domains e.g.: customer.mysite.com or secure.mysite.com and you wish for them to be protected with your SSL certificates then you would need a wildcard SSL to guarantee that all your sub domains are all secure. A wildcard SSL will allow you to protect unlimited subdomains with just the one SSL.

If you don’t need to secure multiple subdomains and now exactly what subdomains you need it may be cheaper to have these added to a normal SSL certificate. Any reputable SSL supplier/reseller will advise you of this.

You should also remember that the market leading SSL suppliers secure mysite.com and http://www.mysite.com by default with their standard certificates. You would not need a wildcard certificate just to secure the www subdomain.

Free SSL certificates

It is possible to get free ones but please note that you get what you pay for and a free SSL certificate may not be as secure as a paid version. Free SSL’s do not always have the necessary level of encryption or service to keep your website secure that the paid for certificates have.

Another thing to consider is be careful where you obtain a free one from as they may not be legitimate and may only cause more harm than good!

There are some very reputable companies that offer free ones but just keep it simple and do your research.

It is also possible to get free trial certificates from most SSL suppliers. These certificates are fully functional certificates but are time limited to between 30 and 60 days.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5727015