Banner Image - Secure Your Website By Renewing Your SSL Certificate

All SSL certificates have an expiration date (usually annual), we are going to explain why you need to renew SSL certificates, to always ensure your website’s security. An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts the data transferred between a browser and web hosting server. Having a valid SSL is essential for securing both your website’s data and protecting user’s sensitive information such as credit card numbers, login credentials, and personal details.

Types of SSL Certificate and What They Are.

An SSL Certificate or TLS Certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection. SSLs are a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between a webhosting server and a web browser and are an essential part of secure online transactions and the protection of personal and sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands.

Identifying that a website has a valid SSL installed, look at the browser’s address bar and it will show a green padlock icon next to the site’s URL address. The URL itself will contain the “HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)” prefix.

Screenshot of a Browser URL Address Bar Showing a Green Padlock Icon And the https URL Prefix

SSL Certificates are issued by a Certificate Authority (CA). A CA ensures the certificate owner’s legitimacy. They do this by verifying the certificate owners’ information within a public key infrastructure, and issuing digital certificates for data encryption.

There are several types of SSL Certificates available, each with its own unique features and benefits.

Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL)

DV SSLs are the most basic certificate for securing websites and are usually the cheapest. They verify and authenticate a website’s domain name while providing data encryption, however they do not confirm the ownership of the domain. The validation process is simple, which means they can be issued quickly making them ideal for small websites and blogs.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

Wildcard SSLs are made for securing multiple subdomains under a single domain name. Wildcard SSL Certificates are a versatile, simple, and cost-effective way to manage multiple subdomain sites’ security and data encryption. Subdomains are prefixes to your main domain name, for example, a Wildcard SSL Certificate for “www.examplesite.TLD” would also secure “store.examplesite.TLD,” “mail.examplesite.TLD,” and so on. Additionally, Wildcards can be issued for both DV and OV SSLs, making them a great choice for streamlining and managing web security.

Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL)

An OV SSL Certificate provides a higher level of validation and is recommended for businesses and organizations. They are the preferred choice for ecommerce websites and others that handle sensitive information such as account login details, personal data, credit card details and other financial information. They not only encrypt data but also validate the actual business behind the website. The company’s details are displayed on the certificate, instilling confidence in visitors. They require more documentation than DV SSLs to be provided to the relevant CA to verify the identity of the organization that owns the domain, which takes longer for them to be issued.

Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)

The EV SSL Certificate provides the highest level of validation and the highest level of security. It verifies the domain name, the organization behind the website, and the legal existence of the organization. Obtaining an EV SSL involves the meticulous verification and validation of company and domain name ownership documentation. The process ensures utmost authenticity and trustworthiness. EV SSL Certificates are used by large corporations, banking websites, financial institutions and government websites.

Banner saying - Don't Let an Expired SSL Certificate Hurt Your Website

The Importance of Renewing An SSL Certificate

Now that you know a bit more about SSL Certificates, let’s get into why regularly renewing your website’s SSL after you have purchased one is of the utmost important.

How Expired SSLs Impact Your Site

As discussed, having a valid SSL Certificate is essential for maintaining your website’s security. If your certificate has expired, you are potentially opening yourself and your visitors up to significant security threats as well as other negative impacts. Here are some of the risks associated with letting your SSL expire:

First and foremost, expired SSL Certificates can be exploited by hackers to steal sensitive information via data breaches. Exposed information gets intercepted and harvested during the transfer of data between your website’s server and a user’s browser.

Next, SSL Certificates play a very important role in building and maintaining trust with your visitors and customers. An expired SSL Certificate will lead to a warning being displayed by any browser that a user tries to navigate to your website with.

The browser will inform visitors that your website is not secure and encourages them not to access it. This in turn will cause customers to not trust your site and potentially they may not come back. This can lead to a decline in sales and revenue, as well as damage to your reputation.

Lastly, in terms of keeping your site visible, Google has stated that SSL certificates are a ranking factor for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This means it will give preference in organic search results to sites with valid SSLs which means that if your site has an expired certificate, you may experience a significant drop in your search engine rankings.

The Extra Benefits of Renewing Your SSL

Aside for protecting your website and visitors’ data, renewing your site’s SSL certificate comes with additional benefits:

As mentioned in the previous section, SEO best practices include having valid SSL Certificates as they are a ranking factor in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This means that renewing your certificate before it expires will help maintain your site’s search engines’ ranking, thereby boosting your site’s visibility and increasing organic web traffic. It is recommended that you renew your SSL up to 30-days prior to expiration date.

Renewing your SSL certificate by re-using your existing validation information (provided it hasn’t changed), means you can potentially get the renewal validated faster. This can lead to your certificate being issued quicker instead of having to obtain a new one.

We talked about user trust already, but it bears repeating. Renewing your SSL instills a sense of authority and trustworthiness when users visit your site. Having warnings and error messages displayed by browsers can cause customers to lose faith in your website and not return. Renewing SSL Certificates will always ensure that websites’ transmission of data remains encrypted at all times.

Finally, renewing your SSL Certificate can save money, renewals are often cheaper than purchasing a new SSL.

How To Renew SSL Certificates

Renewing SSL Certificates is a straightforward process that can be done in a few simple steps. The renewal process may vary depending on the web hosting provider or the relevant CA, but the general steps are as follows:

Get a Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

Before renewing a SSL, you will need to generate a CSR. In short, a CSR is a message sent from an applicant to a Certificate Authority (CA) to apply for a digital identity certificate. The CSR contains information about the applicant’s identity and the public key required for the website the SSL is for. For more information on what a CSR is, click here.

Activate The SSL

Once the CSR has been generated, you will need to select the SSL Certificate from the hosting provider’s Client Portal or Dashboard and activate it.

Validate Domain Ownership

The next step is validation of domain ownership for the exact domain that the SSL certificate is being issued. This needs to be done prior to the SSL Certificate being issued and activated. This can be done via the email associated with the domain that the SSL is being used for. Alternatively, you can use HTTP and upload the validation files to the server you want to install the certificate on.

Install The SSL

Once the SSL certificate has been issued, you will need to set it up and install it on your website and hosting server.

Tips For Renewing Your SSL Certificate

Renewing your website’s SSL Certificate is >generally a straightforward process, even so, here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure it goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Renewing your SSL certificate may take time, so plan ahead and start the renewal process early, it will go a long way to speeding things up. This will give you enough time to complete your SSL renewal process and avoid any delays or disruptions.

Speaking of saving time, many hosting providers will install the renewed SSL certificate for you, so if your provider does, it’s a great way to take the hassle out of doing it yourself. For your convenience, Hosted.com will install your SSL on the server that your website is hosted on.

Make sure to keep track of your SSL’s expiration date and renew it before it expires. This will help ensure that your website’s transmission of data remains safe from prying eyes and that your visitors’ information is protected.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. SSL Certificates encrypt data being transferred between web browsers and servers for both owner and visitor security. Types of SSLs include DV, EV, OV, and Wildcard.
  2. Renewing your SSL Certificate is essential for website security, maintaining user trust and helping rank better in search engines.
  3. Expired SSLs negatively impact websites by exposing data transmission to hackers and creating a risk of data breaches. It also lowers SERP rankings and lowers user and browser trust.
  4. Renewing SSLs helps boost SEO, instills visitor trust and is faster than applying for a new SSL Certificate.
  5. To renew an SSL Certificate, generate a CSR, validate the associated domain, activate, and install it.
  6. Know your SSL’s expiration date and plan ahead to speed up the process. Find out if your provider can install it on their server for you.

FAQs

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a digital document that verifies the identity of a website using a public key and a private key. The public key, included in the certificate, allows a web browser to initiate an encrypted data transfer.

Why do I need to renew my SSL certificate?

SSL certificates have an expiration date, after which they are no longer valid. Renewing your SSL certificate ensures that your website and user’s data remain secure and that your visitors can continue to trust your site.

What happens if I don’t renew my SSL certificate?

If you do not renew your SSL certificate, your website will no longer be secure. Visitors to your site may receive warnings from their browser that your site is not secure and not to access it. Additionally, your search engine rankings may be negatively impacted.

How often do I need to renew my SSL certificate?

How often you must renew your SSL certificate depends on the certificate authority and the type of certificate you have. Most are valid for one year, but some can be valid for up to three years. It is important to check with your provider for its expiry date.

Can I renew my SSL certificate before it expires?

Yes, you can renew your SSL certificate before it expires. In fact, it is recommended that you renew your certificate at least 30 days before it expires.

How do I know when my SSL certificate is about to expire?

You can check the expiration date of your SSL certificate by examining the certificate details in your web browser. Most browsers will display a warning message when your certificate is about to expire. You can also set up email notifications to alert you when your certificate is about to expire.

Can you renew an expired SSL certificate?

Renewing any SSL Certificate, will generate a new one, because the SSL embodies the code of the original SSL’s expiry date which cannot be changed. So, whether you are renewing a SSL that is about to expire, or one that has expired, you will still be issued an up to date new SSL Certificate for your web hosting server.