Compare SSL certificates from all major certificate authorities

What is SSL?

SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, a global standard security technology developed by Netscape in 1994. SSL is all about encryption. It creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. The link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remains private and secure and is recognised by millions of consumers by a secure padlock which appears in their browser.

The SSL protocol is used by e-Business's globally to protect their customers ensuring their online transactions remain confidential. In order to be able to use the SSL protocol, a web server requires the use of an SSL Certificate. Certificates are provided by Certification Authorities (CA) who in most cases also offer additional products and services to aid e-Businesses to demonstrate that they are trustworthy. Consumers have grown to associate the 'golden padlock', that appears within their browser display, as an indication of trust in the web site. This simple fact allows e-Business providers an opportunity to leverage that increased trust level to turn visitors into paying customers - so long as you know which type to choose.

Secure SSL Connection between server and browser
Things you need to be aware of that your customers will see

Clicking on the Padlock displays your SSL Certificate and your details


Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are cryptographic protocols that secure communications through encryption over a computer network. TLS is the newer version of SSL, and commonly both are referred to as SSL. The SSL protocol was released up to version 3.0; followed by TLS which has been released up to version 1.2.

How does SSL Certificate Work?

SSL creates an encrypted connection between a website (web server) and the visitors' web browser, enabling secure transmission of private information. It prevents data tampering, data theft, and eavesdropping.

A website owner has to get an SSL Certificate from authorized Certificate Authorities (CAs), who will issue the certificate only after validating certain criteria based on the type of SSL requested. Typically, a website with SSL will display “https://” instead of “http://”, along with a padlock and green address bar.

How does the SSL Certificate Create a Secure Connection?

  • When a browser attempts to connect to a SSL-secured website, the browser and the web server perform an “SSL Handshake” to establish a secure SSL connection.
  • Three types of keys are involved in setting up the SSL connection. They are public, private, and session keys. Any data that has been encrypted using the public key can be decrypted only with the private key, and any data that has been encrypted using that private key can be decrypted only with the public key.
  • The web server sends a copy of its SSL Certificate and public key to the browser.
  • Browser validates the certificate. It checks the certificate root whether it is in its list of trusted CAs, and then ensures if the certificate is still valid and has not expired, or has not got revoked. It also checks the validity of the common name. If all the criteria are satisfied and the browser trusts the certificate, then using the server's public key it creates and sends a symmetric session key.
  • The web server uses its private key to decrypt the symmetric session key. Using this session key the server then replies with an encrypted acknowledgement and this initiates the encrypted session.
  • Further on, all data transmitted between the Server and Browser are encrypted with the symmetric session key.

Your company details - SSL Certificates are issued to either companies or legally accountable individuals. Typically an SSL Certificate will contain your domain name, your company name, your address, your city, your state and your country. It will also contain the expiry date of the Certificate and details of the Certification Authority responsible for the issuance of the Certificate. Only certificates issued by High Assurance Certificate Authority will actually display your company details that your customers will reply upon when making a purchase.

Expiry Date - When a browser connects to a secure site it will retrieve the site's SSL Certificate and check that it has not expired, it has been issued by a Certification Authority the browser trusts, and that it is being used by the website for which it has been issued. If it fails on any one of these checks the browser will display a warning to the end user. Make sure you renew your certificate with time to spare.

Some customers may look at the date and be concerned if it expires too soon. Check for the vendors who when you purchase before the expiry date will actually add remaining days to your certificate for free to avoid this problem. The other alternative is to make sure you purchase a multi-year certificate to minimise your set-up costs and demonstrate to your customer that you will be around in the years to follow.

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