Need an SSL for your site, but you can’t figure out the difference between multi-domain and wildcard certificates? Or maybe you just need a single domain SSL… Then again, what the heck’s a validation level? Not to worry, confusion around SSL types is a common problem, but one that will be solved fast and easily once you read this article.
Read on if you want the best SSL to encrypt your site!
SSL broken down
There are two factors you need to think about before picking an SSL. The first is how many domains and subdomains you have now or are planning to create later. The second is the validation level. Let’s go over the former first.
There are three main SSL types:
- Single domain SSL
- Multi-domain SSL
- Wildcard SSL
Most of these are pretty self-explanatory. As you might have guessed, single-domain SSLs secure one site, while Multi-domain SSLs can secure 1-100 sites. Only Wildcard is the, well, Wildcard. This SSL certificate secures one primary top-level domain and unlimited subdomains of one level linked to it. So for your site example.com, examples of subdomains might be:
A wildcard is also very flexible – it will secure any subdomain you create after you’ve installed it, without you having to get the certificate reissued.
Before the issuing Certificate Authority (CA) gives you your SSL, they need to make sure you are who you say you are. They do this by verifying either you or your company beforehand. This is known as validation, and it comes in three tiers. The first is known as domain validation (DV), and it’s the simplest validation level. With this, the CA will simply check that you can access the admin email of the site you’re seeking to secure.
The next two validation levels, organization validation (OV) and extended validation (EV) are a little more in-depth as they require business authentication. They include cross-checking government records and calling an office premises. While DV certificates are often issued on the same day of purchase, business certificates can take several days.
So, why go for business validation over a simple DV if it’s such a pain? Well, the higher the validation level, the more information about your company is available in the SSL itself. So users can check a certificate to see if it’s the real deal before, for example, purchasing from an unfamiliar e-commerce store. That’s why a business validation SSL is generally recommended for anyone with an online business.