SSL and TLS certificates are essential for companies providing services on the Internet. They’re passports that prove ownership of domains and assurance websites with which to do business are secure.
Organizations install SSL or TLS certificates on their web servers to initiate secure settings with browsers. The application protocol changes from “HTTP” to “HTTPS.” The “S” represents security and is accompanied by a padlock symbol in the address bar. Visitors are safe to proceed.
This broad description demonstrates the role SSL and TLS certificates play in establishing trust between businesses and consumers. But this depiction has complex details.
“SSL” is an acronym for “Secure Socket Layer.” A socket is an internal endpoint for sending or receiving data. SSL keeps information encrypted, allowing only the recipient to have access to the information.
“TLS” is an acronym for “Transport Layer Security.” TLS is an updated version of SSL and often shares the same moniker. TLS uses stronger encryption algorithms and can work on different ports, including HTTPS, Secure Hash Algorithms (SHA) and File Transfer Protocol (FTPS).
The advantages of certificates extend beyond securing transactions. They solidify trust between businesses and customers. Those include:
- Encryption levels up to 256-bit to protect sensitive information
- Strong encryption to protect users’ information from phishing scams and attacks
- Reducing risk, eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks
- Providing positive influence in Google’s evaluation of websites
- Establishing safe-shopping experience, and it’s necessary for websites accepting payments
- Proving business authentication and increasing brand reputation by validating businesses from trusted Certificate Authority (CA)
- Displaying green address bar and organization name
- Increasing businesses’ profits because users trust sites with secure connections
Most companies don’t allow their certificates to lapse, but nearly one-third of the United States’ top companies didn’t maintain security standards in 2018. A report from sslstore.com found these disturbing statistics:
- 32 percent of these large businesses received failing grades for SSL/TLS implementations
- 15 percent were compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
- 45 percent have at least one invalid SSL/TLS certificate
- And approximately 84 percent were compliant with Article 32 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
CA last year shortened the validity of certificates from three years to two. The decision to decrease maximum lifespans was made to reduce the plethora of older, outdated and vulnerable certificates that were issued before new guidelines were introduced.
The cost of certificates varies, depending on the type purchased. Categories include:
- Single domain: Most suitable for companies that have single websites. Cost range: $5 to $49 annually.
- Wildcard domain: Protects unlimited subdomains hosted by single websites. Cost range: $51 to $500 annually.
- Multidomain: Allows users to secure multiple websites using one certificate. It can secure as many as 99 domains. Cost range: As little as $27 annually.
- Extended validation: Considered the most trusted certificate. Businesses wishing to purchase this type are required to validate their authenticities. Cost range: $80 to $1,100 annually.
Unfortunately for business owners, security isn’t cheap, but the cost of purchasing and renewing certificates is essential in maintaining trust with consumers that result in flowing revenue streams that increase profits and stability.
To discuss security strategy, email Security Analyst Frank Verdecchia at email@example.com.