SSL certificate has been pivotal in providing online security. An organization should always take security as an investment and not as an expense. Hence an organization needs to understand when to purchase SSL certificate.
In this article, I take you through the SSL certificate role in enhancing online system security and the right time to acquire it for your system.
But what’s an SSL certificate?
This is a cryptographic document used to prove ownership of the public key.
The definition is slightly technical, let’s discuss it thoroughly.
This document contains crucial information used to verify the end party and keys used for encryption of sensitive information whilst on transit.
The certificate contains both the public key (which can be exchanged) and the private key (secret key) that are used to encrypt and decrypt the information from one end to another. This is referred to as a public-key encryption system (Asymmetric encryption).
Asymmetric encryption is time and resources consuming and it’s used by the peers to exchange secession key. Upon retrieving the public-key from the certificate, browsers generate a session key and encrypt it with a public-key before sending the session key to the server.
The server decrypts the cypher (encrypted text) using its private key.
A session key is used for encryption (Symmetric-key encryption/private key encryption) of information during the session.
SSL certificate isn’t a new technology, it’s a standard security protocol that is recommended for websites. The browser and the server exchange this document to retrieve information such as the public key.
When to purchase SSL certificate?
This is quite an intriguing question.
But before we answer it, let’s assess possible risks in the event you don’t have an SSL certificate.
- Vulnerable to attacks: Sensitive information is transmitted in plain text hence prone to attacks such as eavesdropping.
- Lack of trust: There is no means for an end party to verify the authenticity of the other communicating party. Hence the system is susceptible to masquerade and other forms of falsification
- Low SEO: HTTP sites receive a lower SEO rank on a search engine such as Google.
- Reduced traffic: Browsers like Chrome and Firefox prompt insecure banner warning users of the site. This includes a warning not to submit sensitive information. This discourages your potential customers hence reduced revenues.
There are two scenarios when to purchase an SSL certificate:
- First/ initial purchase: The is the first time to acquire the SSL certificate
- Renewal: SSL certificates are set to expire after a given period. This is usually after 1-2 years period unless it’s a Let’s Encrypt certificate which expires after 90 days.
You can also buy the certificate to comply with the set standards.
For instance, PCI DSS defines the security requirement for any online business accepting card payments. The standard defines card information to be encrypted before being sent. Hence, you require the SSL for encryption.
Security is an important aspect of any business and reduces the liabilities, insurance, and compensation expenses.
Organizations and individuals should always prioritize the best security practices to avoid shortcomings.
SSL certificate is still a reliable and affordable means of implementing a standard security system. If you were worried about when to purchase SSL certificate and I hope this article was mindblowing.