Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is an encryption technology wherein small data files digitally bind an organization’s details with a cryptographic key (decryption key). SSL activates https protocol and a padlock symbol (or a green address bar) representing secured connection between a browser and a web server.
SSL acts as the base of security for internet transactions and ensures protection of sensitive information while it travels across different networks and computers before reaching the destination server. Such sensitive information can be anything like user name, password, credit card number, CVV, PAN or other financial information. It is critical for a website’s privacy, data integrity and for securing personal information. The data encryption happens in such a way that only the intended receiver can interpret the same, while the encrypted information cannot be deciphered by others. SSL certificate indirectly acts as an authentication of identity of an online entity too, in turn adding credibility to its existence.
Here is an example of how VeriSign certified Paypal’s SSL certificate looks like:
SSL certificates are digital certificates issued by SSL certificate authorities (providers) to individuals or businesses after ensuring identity verification based on thorough verification process. Some of the well-known SSL certificate authorities include Comodo, GeoTrust, GoDaddy, GlobalSign, VeriSign, Thawte, Trustwave, SwissSign, Network Solutions, etc. These authorities have different certificate features, prices, products, management interface and level of customer service. What is most important for selection of these certificates is their reputation, customer support and satisfaction level.
Every server administrator needs assistance while deploying SSL certificates. While most certificate providers have products with similar features, choosing the one which offers simple interface, has minimal security breaches and appreciable customer support service is recommended. Remember, a better price is indicative of better service and tools(in most cases) and quicker adaption to changing technologies.
The below image shows usage of varied SSL certificate providers in percentage (in grey) and market share (in dark green)
Before we read on, it is worth noting the insightful representation from W3Tech.com (A dependable firm for IT Market Research) about the market position of SSL Certificate authorities:
Let’s take a look at the top 5 SSL certificate authorities:
Comodo is by far the most preferred choice for SSL Certificates be it for home offices, businesses or eCommerce portals. Just like Symantec Group and GeoTrust, Comodo SSL too offers up to 256-but encryption with SSL packages starting at $4.95 and EV SSL packages starting at $79. Low set up time, great support service, unlimited server licensing and $250,000 warranty, immediate issuance, live chat are some of its best features apart from great reputation that it enjoys across the world as a trusted SSL certificate provider. Comodo is truly a market leader for offering proven security solutions. 100% money back guarantee within 30 days is one of its best features.
VeriSign (Symantec Group)
VeriSign, which is now under Symantec Group, is one of the trust websites of SSL certificate providers. It has various packages supporting as high as 256 bitencryption with some great features like extended validation (EV SSL), vulnerability assessment etc. Though the market share of Symantec group is lower than Comodo SSL, it scores high on reputation. Verisign certificates offer a daily free scan for malware that alerts you against malware threats.
While VeriSign is an expensive choice, GeoTrust SSL Package ensuresup to 256 bit encryption along with warranty and great security features. The basic cost for encryption is $50, while it costs $375 for maximum security. 30 days money back guarantee and quick certificate issuance apart from great security trust make GeoTrust SSL one of the preferred choices apart from Comodo. The basic package provides up to $500K warranty, while the maximum security package (TBID with EV) comes with$1.5M warranty.
GoDaddy is a big name when it comes to domain registration, but it also offers value for money SSL certificate packages starting from $69.99. The standard as well as deluxe SSL package from GoDaddy can be customized. The best part of GoDaddy is its superb 24×7 customer support service (phone/e-mail), live chat, immediate issuance, $1,00,000 warranty and not to forget 30 days refund policy.
IdenTrust 2048 bit SSL certificates with support strength up to 128-bit and 256-bit encryption come with competitive price structure and 24×7 customer service is available for multiple domains (up to 50). With options for 1, 2 and 3 year SSL and warranty coverage up to $10 million, it has packages starting from $66.33 per year (For 3 years)and multi domain packages starting from $239 per year (For 3 years).