An introduction to SSL

Last modified: Friday January 13th, 2023

This article is an introduction to key SSL concepts and it provides background information about SSL. If you planning to install SSL certificates on your website, this article will be useful.

What is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) enhances a website’s security by providing two important features: encryption and authentication.

  • Encryption means that the data sent between your website and users are unreadable by others. When a user accesses your website using an SSL connection (URLs that begin with https://), the web server and web browser exchange encrypted information.
  • Authentication means that visitors can trust that you really are who you are. When users access your website using an SSL connection, they can be sure that they are seeing your site, and not an intruder’s. So encryption helps protect data, and authentication helps argue your identity to others.

Most web browsers display a lock icon (usually in the address bar) for an SSL-enabled site. If you want to enable SSL for your own website, you must order and install a certificate.

Does my website need an SSL certificate?

If your website works with personal data or any kind of payment-related information, you need an SSL certificate. Also, if your website contains login forms where users log in with a username and password, you should protect the user’s information with SSL and prevent stealing login credentials.

How do I obtain an SSL certificate?

There are a few ways you can obtain an SSL certificate for your website:

  • Order an SSL certificate from Beehosting. With this method, you first order an SSL certificate on the Beehosting website. Next, you provide basic information (domain, name, address, telephone, and so on) that is used for generating the SSL certificate. After deploying the certificate you receive an e-mail message that contains the SSL certificate you install on your website.
    For information about how to install an SSL certificate from Beehosting, please see the articles.

    Please note that it may take a day or two to process an order and generate the SSL certificate.
  • Use a cPanel SSL certificate. You can use a cPanel SSL certificate. For the best results recommended to use an SSL certificate from a recognized Certificate Authority. cPanel SSL certificates are free and automated and use a certificate authority (CA) that is recognized by most modern browsers. cPanel SSL is supported for almost all Beehosting accounts and certificates can even be generated automatically. For more information about cPanel SSL certificates, please see the articles.
  • Order an SSL certificate from a third-party provider. This process is a bit more complicated than the previous ones. To obtain an SSL certificate from a third-party provider, you must first create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). The provider uses CSR to generate the certificate. After you receive the SSL certificate from the provider, you can install it on your website.
    For information about how to install an SSL certificate from a third-party provider, please see this article.

    Note that it may take a day or two to process an order and generate the SSL certificate.
  • Use a self-signed certificate. With a self-signed certificate, your site can provide encryption, but absolutely no authentication. (This is because the certificate will be signed by you, and not a Certificate Authority.) And users receive warning messages in their browsers when they try to access secure zones of your site. Primarily self-signed certificates are used for testing or development, and should not be used in a production environment.
    For information about how to install a self-signed SSL certificate, please see this article.

More Information

SSL certificate brands

There are multiple types of SSL Certificates options, and each one is offered by a number of reputable brands. Some of the most popular and reputable brands that issue SSL Certificates include:

  • GeoTrust – The digital certificate provider that is owned by the software solutions provider Broadcom. Since its launch in 2001, GeoTrust has been a leading provider of SSL Certificates
  • RapidSSL – RapidSSL is a staple of the SSL Certificate industry. RapidSSL offers a number of secure and affordable website protection options.
  • Sectigo – Formerly known as Comodo before its acquisition in 2017, Sectigo is one of the market leaders in SSL Certificates. Sectigo have you covered whether you need a Wildcard SSL, Organization Validated SSL, Domain Validated SSL, or a number of different options.

SSL certificate features

Here are some of the most common terms and features you’ll run across when choosing your SSL certificate:

  • Warranty – Covers any costs or damages associated with a failure or mis-issuance of the SSL.
  • Site Seals – Site seals come in two varieties; static and dynamic. Static seals are essentially an image that communicates that the website is secure. A dynamic site seal, on the other hand, can be clicked on and communicates important security details to your website visitor.
  • Domain Validation – SSL Certificates are issued only after the SSL applicant has proven ownership of the domain name.
  • Organization Validation – The SSL is issued once the organization has gone through a more thorough vetting process including business identity and physical address.

Looking for reliable protection for your site? Get the right level of website protection with our SSL options

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