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Introduction to SSL Certificates
SSL Certificates are highly encrypted and secure digital certifications from an authorized certification entity. Although this cryptographic protocol is still known as SSL (Secure Socket Layers), it has actually evolved over the decades and is now known as TLS (Transport Layer Security).
Please refer to this comprehensive Wikipedia article should you wish to read about the historical and current developments of this global online security protocol .
Types of SSL Certificates
Domain Validated SSL Certificate:
A Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificate will validate a website’s domain name, ensuring its authenticity. Users can verify this when clicking on the Secure Site Seal icon.
Extended Validated SSL Certificate:
An Extended Validated (EV) SSL Certificate offers the highest level of authentication. The CA conducts an annual in-depth audit to maintain information integrity.
Organization Validated SSL Certificate:
OV SSL Certificates verify a website’s domain and some company details, assuring users of a legitimately operational company.
SAN SSL Certificate:
A Subject Alternative Name (SAN) SSL Certificates are multi domain SSL certificates, where specifications can include additional host names.
A Transport Layer Security Certificate supersedes the SSL protocol, enhancing security.
Wildcard SSL / Shared Certificate:
A Wildcard SSL certificate permits unlimited sub-domain use on the same domain name. It’s ideal for hosting companies, ensuring multiple subdomains are secure under a single SSL Certificate.
Unified Communications Certificate:
A UCC Certificate is also known as a SAN Certificate – refer above.
256-Bit SSL Encryption: 256-bit SSL encryption is a robust security measure, indicating that the encryption key is 256 bits in size. This level of encryption is computationally infeasible to crack.
Certification Authority: A Certification Authority (CA) verifies the certificate owners’ information within a public key infrastructure, issuing digital certificates for data encryption. A CA ensures the certificate owner’s legitimacy.
CPS (Certification Practice Statement): The Certification Practice Statement (CPS) is a document outlining CA practices and policies in issuing, managing, and revoking digital certificates.
CRL (Certificate Revocation List): The Certificate Revocation List (CRL) is a digitally signed data file containing revoked digital certificate details and prevents browsers from trusting revoked certificates.
CSR (Certificate Signing Request): A Certificate Signing Request (CSR) is the initial step in obtaining an SSL Certificate. It includes essential company and website information required for the Certification application.
Green Address Bar: The Green Address Bar visually confirms a website’s security with an Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate. It appears on high-security browsers like Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
Host Headers SSL: Host headers manage multiple websites using the same IP address. SSL certificates require a dedicated IP address, ensuring secure connections.
HTTPS: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) indicates a secured, encrypted connection when a website has an SSL Certificate installed.
IIS (Internet Information Services): Internet Information Services (IIS) is Microsoft’s web server software with comprehensive SSL support, including a CSR generation wizard.
OpenSSL / mod_ssl: The OpenSSL Project collaboratively develops a robust open-source toolkit for SSL and TLS protocols, enhancing web security.
Session Key: A session key is generated for encryption by the user’s browser after validating the SSL Certificate.
SSL Accelerator: SSL accelerators enhance the number of concurrent SSL connections and speed up the SSL handshake process for high-traffic sites.
SSL Certificate: An SSL Certificate, or Secure Sockets Layer Certificate, encrypts data transmitted between a browser and web server, ensuring secure data transactions.
SSL Handshake: The SSL Handshake is the process where the browser and web server establish an encrypted SSL session, ensuring secure data transmission.
SSL Key / Private Key: The SSL Key (Private Key) is essential for validating the server’s authorization to use an SSL Certificate, as it pairs with the SSL Certificate.
SSL Port / HTTPS Port: An SSL port, or HTTPS port, is designated on a web server for SSL traffic, usually port 443, while non-secure HTTP traffic uses port 80.
SSL Proxy: An SSL Proxy secures non-SSL applications by adding SSL support between the client and web server. Stunnel is an example of an SSL proxy multi-platform application that provides a SSL tunneling service for servers and clients that do not have TLS or SSL coding.
By understanding these SSL certificate terms, you’re better equipped to make informed choices for your website’s security.