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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of SSL Certificate

Below are the asked FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) at the time of purchase or installation of SSL/TLS Certificates. Go through this; it will help you learn and understand what SSL is, how it works, why SSL is needed, how to order SSL, how to generate CSR, etc.

Apart from this, it will be helpful to you if you’re having any query regarding the installation of SSL Certificate on your web server or solve any question if you face at the time of installation.

If your desired question is not available in our list of SSLs FAQ, you can directly ask us via the contact option.

SSL Certificate FAQ

SSL FAQs – Basic SSL Questions

These FAQs will help you gain fundamental knowledge of SSL certificates, certificate authority, benefits of SSL, types of SSL and how SSL works.

What is the meaning of SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is one of the standard security protocols used by millions for establishing an encrypted connection between a web browser and a web server while preventing cybercriminals from reading and modifying any transaction done between them such as the transmission of sensitive information like credit card while doing online shopping. It ensures that all the data passed between the web browser and web server remains private and secured.

What is SSL TLS certificate?

TLS (Transport Layer Security) the successor protocol and an improved version of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). It works similar to SSL using encryption for protecting the transmission of data and information.

Moreover, SSL Certificates are one of the digital certificates which prove that the identity of the websites is authenticated and all the information sent to SSL installed website will stay encrypted with the help of SSL/TLS technology.

How does an SSL work?

Whenever a user visits a secured website, an SSL/TLS Certificate installed on it offers identification information regarding its web server and creates an encrypted connection. Furthermore, all of this process is done within a second.

Let’s see how does an SSL work?

  • Web browser or server tries to connect with the server of a website secured with an SSL/TLS Certificate and make a request to a web server for identifying themselves.
  • Copy of a web server’s SSL/TLS Certificate is sent to the browser or server.
  • Once the browser/server receives it verifies whether to trust the SSL/TLS Certificate and then sends a message to the web server.
  • The web server sends back an acknowledgment in a digitally signed format for starting an SSL encrypted session.
  • Now, the access is granted to share encrypted data between the web server and the browser/server.

Do I need SSL?

Yes. If you have a website, SSL is needed. Earlier, it was okay to have an SSL only for the website which was collecting information from the user. But after Google’s update regarding SSL, it is needed no matter what type of website you have, whether you collect the information or not. Even a simple blog will also display a “Not Secure” if the SSL is not installed on it.

How safe is SSL?

SSL/TLS Certificate installed on the website means it helps to secure the data transferred between the visitor and a website and vice-versa. Though one thing has to be noted that, it doesn’t mean the information on the server is secured, as once the sensitive data reaches the server it’s up to the admin on how to keep it safe for example, encryption of database.

In other words, HTTPS means HTTP is sent over an SSL encrypted connection which covers GET & POST with other HTTP actions while keeping it safe and unaltered as all the data is passed via an SSL tunnel to the client browser.

Which layer is SSL used?

The SSL protocol is implemented around the HTTP protocol, whereas in the OSI model, it’s usually implemented in an application layer, but again strictly, it is in the session layer.

While in the OSI model, it’s something like:

  • Physical Layer such as Wi-Fi or Network cable
  • Data link Layer like Ethernet
  • Network Layer like IPV4
  • Transport Layer (TCP)
  • Session Layer like SSL
  • Presentation Layer
  • Application Layer like HTTP

What is TLS vs SSL?

Both TLS & SSL are protocols used for sending data over the internet securely. Though there’s a minor difference between them, still TLS and SSL are considered as a different standard. TLS (Transport Layer Security) is an advanced version of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which uses stronger encryption algorithms and also has the ability for working on different ports. Furthermore, TLS versions do not work in conjunction with SSL version 3.0.

What is SSL used for?

Put simply, SSL is one of the security protocols used for establishing a secured connection between a web browser and the web server, which ensures users that all the data passed between a web browser and web server remains integral and private.

In other words, SSL certificates are one of the small data files which are digitally bound cryptographic key with an organization’s details. Usually, it is used for securing sensitive transactions over the internet such as transactions made with a credit card or online banking, login credentials and more.

What's more secure SSL or https?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the security protocol used for establishing a secured connection between web-browser and the webserver. It’s one of the industry security standard protocol, which is used by many websites for securing the online transactions of the clients. On the other hand, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer), works as a sub-layer under the HTTP application layering. Here, HTTPS encrypts the regular HTTP message before sending and decrypts a message during its arrival.

Why SSL is important?

The main reason to use SSL is to encrypt and secure sensitive information sent over the Internet, so only the recipient who is intended can have access to it while making it unreadable to any third-party in-between. As any information sent over internet pass through various computers before reaching its destination server, ultimately making your sent information such as credit card details, login credentials vulnerable to attacks, if it’s not encrypted with an SSL certificate. Additionally, SSL is important because it provides:

  • Authentication: Provides surety that the information is sent to the right server and not any fraudster who is trying to steal data.
  • Trust: Visual trust indicators such as a green bar or a lock icon are displayed on the popular web browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, letting your website visitors know about your genuineness.
  • PCI Compliance: Pass the audits and satisfies the requirement of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, which are needed for any website which accepts credit card details.

What type of encryption does SSL use?

SSL/TLS Certificate works on RSA Asymmetric Encryption and Symmetric Encryption. Where Asymmetric Encryption helps to establish a secure client-server session and Symmetric Encryption for exchanging information securely over the already established secured session, also called as “SSL Handshake.”

What are the benefits of SSL?

If you own a website these days, it’s a compulsion that you must have an SSL/TLS certificate installed on it. Now, it’s no more like any luxury, but it’s more a necessity. Additionally, some of the benefits you get by installing an SSL/TLS certificate are like:

  • SSL helps in protecting your server-client transactions such as sharing of credit card number while purchasing online by making an encrypted tunnel between the two.
  • SSL helps in providing authentication of the website. It helps in identity verification, which is an important aspect regarding web security.
  • SSL helps in satisfying the requirements of PCI/DSS as a website needs to be PCI compliant to receive online payments.
  • It provides visual trust indicators which help in boosting the trust and confidence of website visitors.
  • SSL helps in establishing non-repudiation with the combination of Encryption, Integrity and Authentication. In other words, SSL makes a secured transaction due to which none of the party, i.e., server or client can say that the communication is coming from someone else.
  • Removes web-browser security warning message “Not Secure.”

SSL FAQs – Buying an SSL

How do I get SSL?

  • Getting an HTTPS on the website is quite easy. Simply follow the below steps:
  • Get your website on a dedicated IP address
  • Purchase a certificate from the trusted Certificate Authority or its resellers
  • Activate the purchased SSL/TLS Certificate by following all the necessary steps such as generating CSR
  • Install your SSL/TLS Certificate
  • Finally, make the necessary changes to use HTTPS

Can I get SSL for free?

Yes, you can get SSL for free. Some of them who provides are as below:

Let’s Encrypt: A collaborative project of many tech giants offers an SSL/TLS Certificate for free. Additionally, it’s automated, which means there’s no need to create CSR. All these processes happen in the background without giving you any hassle.

Comodo: It’s one of the branded Certificate Authority and yes it offers a free SSL certificate for 90 days period validity. It’s one of the best choices to look around and get familiar with SSL or any short-term project.

Cloud Flare: Cloud Flare one of the popular CDN & Security Company recently announced that they do offer free SSL universally, even for the free plan users.

StartCom: It provides a class 1 Domain Validated (DV) SSL/TLS Certificate for free, which is one of the good choices for a personal blog or website.

WoSign: It’s one of the Certificate Authority, who offers an SSL/TLS Certificate for first two years free. Additionally, SSL Certificate provided by them supports SHA2 algorithm.

SSL For Free: It uses ACME server of Let’s Encrypt and provides DV (Domain Validated) SSL certificate for free which are issued within a few minutes.

Additionally, some other who provides free SSL/TLS Certificate as a trial for the first 30 days are:

  • GeoTrust
  • Entrust (60 Days free trial)
  • Trustico
  • Quality SSL

What are the best SSL certificates?

Generally, SSL Certificate Authorities and providers such as Secitgo, DigiCert, Thawte, TheSSLStore, Namecheap, CheapSSLSecurity, RapidSSLOnline, offers three different validation types of SSL/TLS Certificates namely, Domain Validated (DV), Organization Validated (OV) and Extended Validated (EV). Based on your requirement, you can choose any of the ones which suit the best, like:

  • Domain Validated SSL certificate is best for personal blogs or websites
  • Organization Validated SSL is good for the organization’s website which has to deal with critical data
  • Extended Validated SSL certificates are good to go for any shopping portal or any website which does financial transactions online such as Banking website.

Though, from whom you purchase does make a difference. For example, SSL Certificates purchased from Certificate Authority will be a bit high in price whereas their resellers offer the same SSL/TLS Certificate at cheaper rates due to the discount they get from the Certificate Authority for purchasing in bulk.

SSL FAQs – SSL Certificate Types

What are the types of SSL certificates?

Different SSL Certificates are needed for a different type of websites. Again, SSL certificates are divided into two categories:

Validation Level:

  • Domain Validated SSL Certificates, which are good for a personal blog or content-based website which does not collect any sensitive information from the users.
  • Organization Validated SSL Certificates, which are a good option for any website which shares any critical data
  • Extended Validated SSL Certificate is an excellent choice for websites like shopping portal or banking, which deals with financial transactions and other sensitive information like credit card details.

Functionality Wise:

  • As the name implies, Single domain SSL/TLS Certificate is used for only one domain. It covers domain with “www” as well as non “www” prefix.
  • Multi-Domain/ SAN SSL certificate also known as UCC (Unified Communications Certificate) which covers multiple domains with a single SSL certificate
  • Wildcard SSL Certificate is good for the one who wants to cover one main domain with multiple sub-domains.
  • Multi-Domain Wildcard SSL certificate is a combination of Wildcard SSL and Multi-domain SSL Certificate, which covers multiple domains with multiple sub-domains.

SSL FAQs – Installaing an SSL Certificate

How do I set up SSL?

How do I enable SSL?

SSL FAQs – SSL Certificate Expiration

Do SSL certificates expire?

Yes. Once the validity period of the SSL Certificate is over, it expires. The validity period is of 1 or 2 years for all the SSL certificates, no matter from which Certificate Authority or Reseller you purchase.

Why do SSL certificates have an expiration date?

SSL Certificates expiration date exists because it helps SSL stay secure. In other words, it helps mitigating vulnerabilities caused by security standards. It helps SSL Certificate keep using all the latest security standards. Lastly, the shorter life cycle of SSL Certificate means to create new key once it expires, ultimately help in minimizing compromises such as loss of private key which are associated with the SSL certificates.

How do I know when my SSL expires?

If you are using the latest version of any of the popular web-browser, you will be able to see the warning message “Not Secure” in the URL, if the SSL certificate is already expired. Furthermore, if it’s not expired and you want to check its validity or want to know when it will expire, different web-browser has different steps. For example, in Google Chrome, you need to click the padlock icon in the URL and click on “Valid,” which will display its validity period.

SSL FAQs – SSL Tools Questions

How do you check if my website has SSL?

There are two different ways. Firstly, if you open a website and see the HTTPS URL, it means the website has an SSL/TLS Certificate. Secondly, free tool SSL Checker is available, which helps you identify whether the website has an SSL certificate installed or not. Simply, insert the URL of the website and click on the check button and the result will be displayed.

SSL FAQs – Miscellaneous Questions

What is an SSL for email?

SSL for Emails means, emails are secured with SSL/TLS Certificate and they are sent and received with trust and integrity which assures that the attachment and text sent in an email are not tampered or changed by any third party while its being in transit. In other words, emails encrypted with an SSL certificate adds a Digital ID, which ensures that an email is coming from the intended user and not someone else.

What is the difference between SSH and SSL?

Both SSH and SSL are a public key cryptography tunneling protocols which are aimed towards creating a secure and confidential exchange of connection and data throughout the network, specifically the internet.

Apart from this, some of the differences between them are like:

  • Usually, port 22 is used by SSH whereas an SSL uses port 443
  • SSH is used for securing the execution of the commands across the internet whereas SSL is used mostly for the transmission of sensitive information like credit cards and banking over the internet
  • For establishing a secure connection, SSH makes use of a username and password whereas SSL does not
  • SSH is about network tunneling whereas SSL is about digital certificates

Do I need SSL for email?

If you’re one of those who use POP or IMAP connection for downloading the emails, then without SSL your critical information like username and password are visible to anyone who can see your internet traffic which means they can intercept your network traffic, ultimately allowing them to read your emails. To avoid such situations, SSL is a good choice as it helps in encrypting email traffic, so it becomes unreadable from anywhere between your computer and the mail server you use.

Does SSL encrypt email?

Yes, SSL encrypts email. Moreover, it’s not possible by third parties to decrypt any email during data exchange if an SSL has encrypted it. Lastly, SSL/TLS technology is not only used for securing websites, online banking, but also for emails and it doesn’t matter whether it’s from email clients such as Outlook or a web browser.

Is SSL still used?

Yes, SSL is used. Nowadays, the SSL/TLS Certificate is not any luxury but a necessity. As per Google, if anyone fails to install an SSL/TLS Certificate, “Not Secure” security warning message will be shown whenever the visitors visit that website.

Does SSL affect SEO?

After the announcement of Google’s compulsion towards installing an SSL/TLS Certificate, it can affect it, because if the SSL certificate is not installed on the website, it will start displaying the “Not Secure” message or worst website will stop loading in any of the popular web-browser. Again, content is more important. If there’s an SSL certificate, but the website is not user-friendly or content is not relevant to users need, it will be useless, which will make a negative impact on the SEO of a website. In other words, low traffic and lower conversions. Lastly, a user may get a boost in ranking due to SSL/TLS Certificate installed on it.

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