What is SSL?
SSL, Secure Sockets Layer, is a security-based communication protocol responsible for establishing encrypted connections between web servers and web browsers during online communications.
The SSL Certificate
SSL Certificates are digitally signed files obtained from what’s known as a Certificate Authority (CA). A Certificate Authority is an entity allowed to issue digital certificates to web domain owners. Examples of Certificate Authority entity include SSL.com, Comodo, and DigiCert.
Types of SSL Certificates
The first steps are determining which certificate is needed for the environment.
- Single Domain Certificate: allows you to secure a single web domain name.
- Multi-Domain Certificate: allows you to secure multiple domains on a certificate. Examples include:
mydomain.com, mydomain.net, mydomain.us
- Wildcard Certificate: allows you to secure a single domain with unlimited subdomains of that same domain. Examples include mydomain.com, help.mydomain.com, shop.mydomain.com.
- Extended Validation Certificate: allows you to secure a single domain except it provides a higher degree of authentication and SSL protection. In addition, it turns the address bar green for visitors.
The primary benefit of an SSL certificate is protecting online communications & transactions. A secondary benefit is its ability to minimize risks and protect the sensitive information of your visitors and customers.
WordPress & SSL Technology
The Need for Better Security with WordPress
It’s no secret that WordPress websites are vulnerable to attacks by hackers. It’s been reported that of the million-plus websites hacked every year, 75% of those were WordPress websites. This is in large due to themes & plugins which, when not updated, become access points for hackers. It’s becoming increasingly important that anyone using a WordPress website to collect payments from selling products or to manage users and account information should be doing so with an SSL certificate.
Vendors Require Security
Payment vendors like PayPal, Authorize.net, & Stripe require secure connections when performing payment transactions. Google announced in 2014 their plan to use SSL & HTTPS as indicators for ranking websites in search results. Basically, websites with HTTP & SSL are ranked higher in Google search engines improving search engine optimization (SEO) for the site. Websites without SSL technology are ranked lower.
Standard SSL Certificates
- Secures a single web domain
- Authenticates identity of domain owner
- Boosts search engine ranking
- Adds padlock to web browser showing online communications to be secured
- Ideal for blogs & personal websites
Wildcard SSL Certificates
- Secures single domain to include unlimited number of first-level sub-domains. Examples:
- mydomain.com , mail.mydomain.com, yourblog.mydomain.com
- Displays Green address bar
- Secures both mydomain.com & www.mydomain.com
- Secures single web domain
- Offer higher degree of authentication over Standard SSL certificates
- Requires more evaluation & documentation checks
- Validation includes manual steps to confirm web domain identity, ownership, location, and authorization
Multi-Domain SSL Certificates
- Use Subject Alternative Names (SAN) certificates to secure unlimited domains & sub-domains.
- Ideal for securing names across multiple domains and sub-domains.
- mydomain.com, anotherdomain2.com, mynextdomain3.com, mail.mydomain.com
- Allows running multiple services on a single dedicated IP address.
- Capable of securing messaging services:
- SMTP, ActiveSync, Microsoft Outlook
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