Cybersecurity threats are increasing and becoming more severe. Almost every sector is feeling the heat. 68% of business leaders now anticipate that cybersecurity threats will increase even more. In the recent past, we have witnessed terrifying cyber threats such as massive data breaches, phishing, malware, privacy intrusions, and crypto-jacking. This trend calls for investment in security measures and cybersecurity tools to avert the looming crisis. It now goes without saying that as technology evolves, so do the hackers who come up with new tricks to conduct malicious cyber-attacks.
Attackers are now taking advantage of organizations and individuals who seem to pay little attention to the proper cybersecurity measures. Hackers are going after anything and everything, from newly-established blogs to large business websites. Their main aim is to steal sensitive information such as users’ personal information, credit cards, debit cards, financial records, among others.
It is vital to invest in cybersecurity tools and security measures to be safe from cyber-attacks. One cybersecurity tool that is proving to be effective beyond any doubt is the SSL certificate. This article exploits this tool and provides details of why it is imperative to cybersecurity.
Table of Contents
- What is an SSL Certificate?
- Why is an SSL Certificate so Important to Cybersecurity?
- Types of SSL Certificates
- Types of SSL Certificates Based on the Validation Levels
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. An SSL certificate refers to small data files that cryptographically create an encrypted link between two points on the internet. SSL certificate ensures that all data transfers happening between the web servers and the web browsers are encrypted. It means that no intruder will be able to intercept and read the encrypted information. It is the reason why an SSL certificate is said to be a secure protocol and a vital cybersecurity tool.
Why is an SSL Certificate so Important to Cybersecurity?
When you visit a web page that requires you to share your personal information with the web servers, the information that you share risks being intercepted and read by malicious hackers. The information could be anything from bank account details, credit card information, health records, personal addresses, contact details, among others. In the cybersecurity world, the interception of this information is referred to as Man-In-The-Middle attacks.
Wondering how a hacker can intercept the communication between a web server and a web browser? Well, to them, that could be a walk in the park. A hacker will place a small, hard-to-detect listening device on the server’s host. The device will become active when a person starts typing his details, capturing the details, and sending them back to the intruder. That is terrifying. Isn’t it?
However, it should not terrify you when you are visiting a website that has an SSL certificate. The certificate will act as a guardian angel and shield against any form of intrusions. The certificate establishes a secure connection that ensures only the intended recipient who bears the decryption key will read and understand the information.
All website owners should have the certificate to protect their information and that of their customers. Having the certificate will assure web visitors that their communication with you is encrypted and thus secure. To establish whether or not a site has the certificate, your clients will be looking for the HTTPS status and the padlock symbol.
Generally, all websites that have the certificate will have their URL starting with HTTPS and not HTTP. The additional S means that the site is secure. Furthermore, the site will have a padlock symbol. Users who visit an insecure website will also warn that the site they are visiting is insecure. You either install the SSL certificate or fall victim to a devastating cyberattack that will cost you a significant amount of resources to repair.
Types of SSL Certificates
Now that you understand how significant an SSL certificate can be to a website, it is prudent that you also understand the different types of certificates, so you know which certificates to use. The following are the different types of SSL certificates:
1. Single Domain SSL Certificate
A single-domain SSL certificate is that which secures only one domain and all its pages. Nothing more. You should note this type of certificate because you cannot use it to secure subdomains or a different domain.
2. Wildcard SSL Certificate
If your website has multiple subdomains, then the Wildcard SSL certificate is the way to go. The wildcard SSL certificate ensures that a single certificate secures one domain and several other subdomains, so you do not have to acquire a certificate for every other subdomain.
It is, therefore, a much cheaper option to acquire. It also saves time, resources, and hassle experienced installing a different certificate for each subdomain. If you want to save money, then this is the option to go for.
3. Unified Communications (UCC) SSL Certificate
Also referred to as the Subject Alternate Name (SAN certificate), this type of certificate allows multiple hostnames to be protected by one SSL certificate. The main reason why the SAN certificates were introduced was to bridge the communication between a single server and a browser.
However, their roles have since evolved and to include multiple hostnames by the same owner. Multi-Domain SSL certificates can secure up to 100 domain names (depending upon the provider.)
Types of SSL Certificates Based on the Validation Levels
1. Domain Validation SSL Certificate
A DV SSL certificate is that which applies to precisely one domain. It is considered a low-level encryption SSL certificate which is also the quickest type you can receive. You need to pass through a few validation steps and a few documents to receive the certificate. The certificate authority issuing the DV SSL certificate will not vet any identity data, so you are not bound to know the person receiving your encrypted information.
This SSL certificate is the ideal type if you cannot afford a high-level SSL certificate such as the EV or OV certificate. It is important to note that the Domain Validation SSL certificate offers the same encryption levels as the other high-level certificate. So, you are not compromising your security whatsoever by acquiring this certificate type.
2. Organization Validation SSL Certificate
The OV SSL certificate is a high-level SSL certificate used to validate a company or a business. The primary role of this type of SSL certificate is to provide encryption to the sensitive information of the users and the transactions made by customers. This type of certificate is characterized by a 2048-bit encryption and will display the company’s name in the site seal.
3. Extended Validation SSL Certificate
A Certificate Authority issues this type of certificate after the CA performs a thorough verification of the company and its ownership. Because of the lengthy verification procedures, the certificate will take a considerable amount of time to be issued. It is a highly effective certificate capable of enhancing customers’ trust levels. It is, therefore, the best certificate choice for improving trust and building a reputable brand.
With the number of cybersecurity threats increasing day after day, the need to secure all your business data is now not an option but a necessity. Several cybersecurity tools can be great companions in securing data from intruders. One cybersecurity tool that has proved to be effective in securing data is the SSL certificate. If you have to win the war against intruders, the perfect weapon is the SSL certificate.
The certificate ensures that all your network traffic and customer data are out of reach by hackers and people with malicious intentions. This article has explained the role of SSL certificates in cybersecurity and the different types of SSL certificates that you can choose from.