Internet security is very crucial since the platform is generally prone to unauthorized access, identity thefts, and interference of sensitive information. This is calls for appropriate security measures.
The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is one such security measure. It is a worldwide standard security technology system that allows for the encryption of communication between web browsers and web servers. It is utilized by all online businesses and individuals to ward off the risks of interfering with any sensitive pieces of information by hackers or identity thieves. Its installation on web servers, therefore, keeps any flow of information between the server and the browser ‘private.’
Types of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates
The SSL certificates are offered in two main types. These are the free and the paid versions respectively. The free versions released by the Comodo and the Let’s Encrypt are open source services that enable end users to create SSL certificates on their sites without the need to validate their emails at all! Quite a number of other free SSL options are available online from time to time. They are generally fast, handy, and desirable to bloggers and all other online users who do not process any payments online.
Let’s Encrypt (FREE)
This security option does not seal sites. It grants the authority to utilize its certificate for one domain only. End users, therefore, have to install separate certificates for each sub-domain. It is valid for 90 days only. No end support is provided to end users, however, and it is therefore not that secure.
Rapid SSL (Paid)
Unlike the Let’s Encrypt SSL, RapidSSL can offer security to all the sub-domains by just one certificate. It, therefore, reduces the accompanying management tasks, installs trusts to the visitors to that web site, and offers secured site seals as part of their SSL certificates. Its validity is 3 years. It also offers end users the relevant customer support services such as technical advice, sales support, and installations. The SSL software also provides a wide range of certificates including but not limited to EV, DV, Wildcard, OV, Code signing, and Multi-domain. It is therefore superior and hence preferable to the Let’s Encrypt SSL.
|FREE SSL||PAID SSL|
|Type of SSL Certificate||Is accompanied by a domain validation which confers some level of verification.
Suitable for small businesses and blogs
Lack the provisions for extended validations (EV) and organizational validation (OV) certificates
|Offers both the DV and the OV options which are generally more secure. They offer high levels of protection to the business websites
Suitable for sites that process transactions
|Levels of validation||Other than the identity of the website owner, this SSL validates no other parameter/aspect of web security||Verifies both the identity of the website owner plus the business itself|
|Validity Period||Generally for 30-90 days. The validity ought to be renewed thereafter||Valid for 1-3 years|
|Support||Offers no back-end support||Provides round-the-clock back-end support|
|Level of trust||Offers no visual indicators||Provides visual indicators such as green address bar and enhanced site seals
Boosts consumer confidence and drives sales revenue upwards
|Warranty||Offers no warranty||Are backed by warranty|
Paid Certificates – A Better and Safer Option
The Free and the paid SSLs differ in the following regards:
The Certification Authority does perform verification checks each time a credit card is used for online purchases especially before such purchases are authorized. This verification is not carried out however in the case of Free CAs. This predisposes end users to risks of unauthorized access to the unencrypted sensitive information by those who may run the site.
Paid SSL enables users to report such issues to the Certification Authority. Subsequent purchases are also covered under their warranty. Any other reports of abusive activities if received are further investigated and appropriate actions taken.
Paid SSLs do provide complete and efficient back-end support to the end users on round-the-clock, 7-days a week basis. Free SSLs on the other hand have limited customer support services. They too do not provide any warranty or service level agreements.
Paid certificates come along with 1-3 year validity. They, therefore, grant end users the peace of mind they need to fully enjoy the attendant benefits and enable them to concentrate fully on the core objectives of their businesses. Free SSLs on the other hand do not provide such conveniences. They require their end users to constantly renew the certificates within shorter durations of time. This imposes unnecessary inconveniences especially so when the renewals are forgotten.
Many paid SSLs do provide Wildcard Certificates. These facilitate the task of managing sub-domains since the entire management of all the sub-domains is handled by just one SSL certificate. Wildcard Certificates also negate the need for validating, activating, and installing SSL certificates for each client. Free SSL on the other hand support only single and the multi-domain certificates.
As may be concluded from the foregoing discussions, paid SSLs are by far more superior to the Free SSLs. Free SSLs as a matter of fact are mainly relevant to personal blogging or basic sites that neither conducts any financial transactions nor deal in sensitive data. E-commerce solution providers, other sites that gather customer data or companies that are keen in enhancing their protection and trustworthiness clearly have no choice but to adopt and utilize Extended Validation SSLs or Organization Validation from trusted certification authorities.