You probably have heard about SSL certificates. SSL is the abbreviated form of “Secure Sockets Layer.” SSL is an encryption application that connects to port 443 on the Internet, providing the necessary channel for secure transactions. You can tell that you are using a site with SSL protection when the letter “s” appears at the end of the “http” address header on the browser’s bar.
If you have an online business, SSL certificates are important. The SSL certificate assures your customers that you are employing measures designed to protect their personal information. In fact, if you do not install an SSL certificate on your ecommerce website, a warning box will pop up, letting potential customers know that you are not properly protected.
Popular providers of SSL certificates
There are many companies that provide SSL certificates. Which one you pick probably depends on your needs. However, there five companies that are very popular for SSL protection:
- VeriSign. VeriSign is probably the most well-known and well-trusted of companies that issue SSL certificates. It is probably the most popular SSL certificate provider – especially for bigger companies. However, this type of reputation doesn’t come cheap. VeriSign offers more expensive options, ranging from 56 bit encryption to 256 bit encryption.
- Thawte. Thawte is another trusted name in SSL certificate issuance. Like VeriSign’s certificates, SSL certification issued by Thawte is a little on the expensive side.
- GoDaddy. This company has been making a name for itself in the realm of Internet services. GoDaddy is primarily associated with domain names. However, GoDaddy also provides SSL certificates, see our full GoDaddy SSL Review. Because the name is recognizable, these SSL certificates are increasing in popularity. GoDaddy is also on the less expensive end. Known for inexpensive domain name purchase, GoDaddy is also offering relatively inexpensive SSL certificates.
- Comodo. Comodo offers a range of SSL certificates, with different options for security and price. Comodo has a reasonably good reputation, and provides low cost secure sockets layer solutions for small businesses.
- Digicert. Digicert has a reputation for providing good support and customer service for its products. Digicert is mid-range in price, providing reasonable SSL certificate value for the money, even though it isn’t terribly well known right now.
Price ranges for SSL certificates
When deciding which SSL certificate to get, it is important to consider price. While price shouldn’t be your only consideration, many business owners have to admit that it is a major issue. Price ranges for SSL certificates are rather wide. You can get an SSL certificate for as little as free and as much as $1,000. Most SSL certificates are renewable on a yearly basis. You can also get SSL certificates that last two years. The price of the SSL certificate usually depends on the following factors:
- Security level. This is expressed in bits. The lowest security level is 56 bit encryption, making use of 56 bits of information in the encryption process. The highest level of security is 256 bit encryption.
- Warranty. Many SSL certificates come with warranties and other extensions. If you choose these, the cost will be figured into your secure sockets layer certificate.
- Type of SSL certificate. Another consideration for price is the type of SSL certificate you are getting. A dedicated SSL certificate costs more than a shared SSL certificate. (You usually get a shared certificate through an ecommerce Web host.) Additionally, a wildcard SSL certificate – which allows you to protect subdomains – also has a different cost.
There are free SSL certificates, but they may not provide the same level of service and support that you would get from a paid SSL certificate. Many free certificates are issued through lesser-known organizations and communities that may not be as trusted.
Choosing your SSL certificate
The SSL certificate that you get depends on what you need for your ecommerce business website. Many people who do not have their own tech person, or who do not understand technology as well, find it easiest to get a shared, versus dedicated, SSL certificate through a Web host. Others like the independence that comes with a dedicated (but more expensive) SSL certificate. A dedicated SSL certificate, unlike other types of SSL certificates, can go with you wherever you go – as long as your domain name remains the same.
Consider the level of security you would like, and your price range. For the most part, it is possible to get a good level of security (try to get the industry standard 128 bit encryption) for a reasonable price, depending on whom you buy the SSL certificate from. Make sure you understand what you are getting, and shop around to make sure you are getting the best value for your money.