Starting an eCommerce site is not easy. Besides its design, branding, CMS, and other things; it is also necessary to pay attention to its security so people can buy your product quickly. After all, why would someone want to purchase from a site that they don’t find secure? And the very first thing that makes them feel insecure on your website is the absence of HTTPS protocol.
This protocol is activated for your site after you install an SSL certificate on your web server, so you must install it from day #1. However, choosing the right SSL certificate for your site is a tricky affair.
You must have a little knowledge of various certificate types and how they affect the security of your eCommerce systems to select the right certificate. But fret not – we’ve got you covered.
In this article we’ll tell you everything you should know about an SSL certificate and how can you choose one depending on your needs. Here we go!
Types of SSL certificates
The classification of SSL certificates based on validation methods that are followed before their issuance to validate the identity of the business that is trying to get them issued. The certificates are classified into three categories based on these criteria:
Domain validation (DV) certificates: This type of certificate validates the identity of a website only on a domain-specific level. They are issued after ensuring that domain ownership belongs to an SSL applicant.
Organization validation (OV) certificates: OV certificates go a step ahead of DV certificates when it comes to the validation of identity. Besides validating the identity of a web server, they also confirm that a legitimate business exists behind any website with a name. It is because of their more rigorous due-diligence process. Before issuing them, the certificate authority (CA) not only verifies the identity of the web server but also confirms the existence of business by collecting proofs of business existence from the applicant.
Extended Validation (EV) certificates: EV certificates are issued after the most rigorous due-diligence process. Domain validation, organization validation, and several other checks are also performed on the business before issuing an EV certificate. It requires validation of business documents and domain ownership as well as a third-party business directory.
The security of a certificate is directly linked with the rigorousness of the due-diligence process adopted by the CA to issue them. It means that DV certificates carry low assurance than OV certificates, and EV certificates carry the highest warranty than OV certificates. EV certificates give the most top validation than any other SSL certificate.
Types of SSL certificates (based on domain-level protection)
SSL certificates are also classified based on domains and subdomains that they can protect. And again, there are three types of licenses based on these criteria too:
Single domain certificate: As its name suggests, a single-domain SSL certificate protects only one domain like www and non-www domain. Nothing more, nothing less.
Wildcard certificate: A Wildcard SSL certificate protects a domain and all the subdomains coming immediately under its hierarchy. The keyword here is immediate. It means that you can protect only those subdomains which are only one level away from the primary domain for which the certificate has been purchased.
For instance, a wildcard SSL certificate can protect example.com (the main domain), blog.example.com, corporate.example.com, and so on (immediate subdomains). It can, however, not protect about.corporate.example.com, because the ‘about’ subdomain is the second level away from the main domain (example.com in this case).
Multi-domain certificate: This type of SSL certificate protects multiple domains and subdomains. Regardless of how far away they are from the main domain in the hierarchy of your site. You can protect all your domains and subdomains with this type of SSL certificates. Of course, this flexibility comes at a price. Multi-domain SSL certificates cost more than both wildcard and single domain.
If we need to summarize all of this in a table, this is how it can be done:
|Type of certificate||DV |
|Single domain certificates||Secure||More secure||Most secure|
|Wildcard certificates||Scalable||More scalable||Most scalable|
Here scalability means the number of domains and subdomains that you can protect, while security implies the difficulty of breaking them.
Things to consider while choosing your SSL certificate
Now when you know about various types of SSL certificates, it’s time to select the type of certificate that you need for your eCommerce site.
Let’s get started.
Nature of your website and data collected
The quality of your site and data that you receive is the first important thing to consider while obtaining an SSL certificate. If you’re not going to store any financial data of your customers, you can decide to go with a DV SSL certificate.
However, if you’ll collect and store financial data on your web server; you must use at least an OV SSL certificate. EV is the best one for all websites that carry financial data. If you can’t afford it then initially you can go with other types of certificates. Then gradually as your budget increases, you should move to EV.
The structure of your eCommerce site also plays a significant role in determining the type of SSL certificate that you need.
If your website structure consists of the main domain and subdomains that are not more than one level from the main domain, then you need to buy a wildcard certificate.
On the other hand, if it consists of both multiple domains as well as subdomains, then you may need a multi-domain SSL certificate.
Budget is also an essential consideration before you decide on an SSL certificate. Of course, you would not want to have a certificate that takes away a good chunk of your earnings. After you analyze and determine your situation based on the above criteria given, you should check if your budget allows you to purchase it or not. If it does, you should look for a cheaper certificate. There’s no point buying a certificate that you can’t afford to renew, or a certificate that can’t protect your entire site.
So that is how you can choose the ideal SSL certificate for your eCommerce website. You can purchase the certificate of your choice from any reputed vendor, but you must select it while keeping the above mentioned three points in mind. Following the above points, you’ll be ensured about not making the wrong choice for your site. And it protects your visitors for a long time. With that in mind, purchase your desired SSL certificate and do let us know about it in the comments.