An introduction to different types of SSL certificates

By Luke Fitzpatrick

Encrypted Computer Data
Image credit: 123RF

You have built an enticing site by focusing on your targeted audience. You have implemented attractive designs and themes on your site to make it more attractive. You are offering products at discounted rates and ensuring good customer service. 

Nothing can go wrong since you have meticulously planned all aspects of your website. Your site content is informative, and your products are eye-catching. You are now awaiting web traffic, sales and revenue. 

What is site security?

The thrill and excitement of starting your new venture can shake your focus on the most pivotal aspect of your site, i.e., site security. Site security is essential to keep cyber-criminals away from your website. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was a terror for us, whereas a thrill for fraudsters. Research indicates a 75% spike in daily cybercrimes reported by the FBI since the beginning of the pandemic. The most simple and secure security solution comes from an SSL certificate.

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL/TLS is the acronym for Secure Socket Layers/Transport Layer Security. It is a digital certificate that secures your site by using encryption security.

A digital certificate creates a secured communication tunnel between the user’s browser (client) and the website (server). 

In short, when an SSL certificate is installed on your site, the secured protocol, HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure), becomes active instead of the unsecured protocol, HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol).

The two signs which indicate the presence of an SSL certificate are a tiny padlock in the URL and HTTPS in the address bar. Users are assured of the site’s security when they see these symbols. 

What is encryption security?

Encryption security functions to keep data secure. Hackers who penetrate networks can easily interpret and misuse the data, causing your site collateral damage. 

When the data is communicated between the client and the server, it’s always in plain, readable text. After an SSL certificate is installed on a website, the data becomes encrypted and is converted into cipher text. 

Cipher text looks like non-readable gibberish text. So, even if hackers succeed in penetrating your network, they may not be able to read the information.

An example of encrypted code
Plain textCipher text
I like SSLsWrdjgoYFdxm4EJl9NoSmreFA8dzQL3UqsBzsU2Rnc=

The different SSL types 

The number of websites (single website or multiple sites), the number of domains (one or more), and sub-domains (1st level or more levels) are all the factors that need to be considered before selecting an SSL certificate. 

1. Single domain SSL certificate

Single domain SSL certificates secure both the www and non-www versions and are available in all the three above-stated validations. 

These certificates also secure a single sub-domain, IP address, hostname, etc. This is the most basic SSL certificate and is ideal for individual websites, small startups, blogs, etc., wherein sensitive stuff is not collected or stored. 

Here, the CA (Certificate Authority), who issues this SSL certificate, verifies the domain name before issuing the certificate. 


Comodo Positive SSL certificate can quickly be issued within a few minutes and can secure your web instantly with 256-bit and 2048-bit CSR encryption. 

This SSL certificate is compatible with most browsers and servers and hence more desirable amongst start-ups and small companies. They come with a Positive SSL site seal to instill trust amongst users.

2. Wildcard SSL certificate

Wildcard SSL certificates are used in the case of varied sub-domains. They secure the root domain and multiple 1st level subdomains with a single certificate. 


Thawte Wildcard SSL certificate is issued within 1-3 days. It secures the primary domain and multiple sub-domains and comes with a warranty of $1,250,000. It comes with a site seal to enhance users’ trust.  

A Wildcard SSL certificate saves time and money since a single SSL certificate secures your entire web with robust encryption. A few of its positives are a complete refund policy within 30 days of issuance in case of encryption issues and 24/7 customer support.

3. Multi-domain SSL certificate

Multi-domain SSL certificates are used to secure multiple domains and sub-domains at all levels.


Sectigo Positive SSL multi-domain certificate secures up to 101 domains and multiple sub-domains at all levels.

This DV SSL certificate comes with a warranty and a 30-day refund policy in case of dissatisfaction. Unlimited server licenses and re-issuances are a few more positives of this SSL certificate.

4. Code signing certificate

A code signing certificate is ideal security for developers and software publishers who want to offer secured software to their users. A signed software will not show any warning during its downloading process.

A code is hashed along with strong encryption, ensuring that any third party does not modify the code since it is signed. The certificate also helps to boost software downloads in the long run.

Why are SSL certificates vital?

1- SSL certificates are critical for online shoppers who share sensitive data. The absence of an SSL certificate can put their information at risk of intruders misusing it. 

2- SSL certificates display the trust icons (padlock and HTTPS), and users check these trust symbols before visiting a site, purchasing products, or sharing sensitive information.

3- They are essential to making a website PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant.

4- SSL portrays site authenticity, data security, and data integrity. 

5- Prevent phishing attacks and lessens a site’s bounce rate. This, in turn, helps in enhancing revenue.

If you want to purchase an SSL certificate for your website, you do not need to spend too much on it. Multiple SSL providers can help you to get your SSL cert at a reasonable price.

Security precautions

Apart from installing SSL certificate security, a few more site security precautions are essential to keep your site and customer data safe from hackers.

Step 1. Select a secured host

An unreliable web host may cause site performance issues in the form of slow site speed and security. Choose a reliable web hosting provider that offers backup and restore options, network monitoring, malware scanning, DDoS security, Firewall integration, etc., to secure your confidential data.

Step 2. Vulnerability testing

Keep on checking your site for vulnerabilities and fix them before any intruder takes advantage of it. You can also hire an outsourcing agency to run this task for you and inform you of possible exploits.

Tracking vulnerabilities help in detecting breaches and cyber-attacks at an initial stage, thus preventing further damage to your site.

Monthly vulnerability scanning will help in curbing the unwanted surprises given by hackers. Run external and internal vulnerability scans and keep your site secured at all times.

Step 3. Stay compliant

Customers must be notified about site security as well as the security of their data. In case of data breaches, they should be alerted and kept in the loop. Comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules to prevent penalties in case of emergencies.

Step 4. Backup your data

A disaster recovery plan should always be in place to face unwanted situations. Site backup is the ideal solution in such unwanted situations.

Not only does data backup help in restoring site data and services instantly, and these life savers also help prevent your business from falling out.

Step 5. Keep your SSL/TLS updated

Only installing an SSL certificate is not enough. Regularly monitor it to ensure your website’s data is secured with encryption. Check for security flaws and ensure proper configuration to prevent SSL-based errors.

Step 6. Regular penetration testing 

Penetration testing helps in identifying and prioritizing the risks. It also helps identify cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, and other vulnerabilities that can hamper your business.

It also prevents hackers from invading your systems and data breaches that cause loss of business operations. 

Step 7. Add security layers

A single security layer is not enough to prevent data breaches. Add extra security layers like firewalls, 2FA (two-factor authentication), and anti-virus software to secure your site. 

Ensure that you have configured the security solutions properly. Be it a firewall, SSL certificate, or any security software, if you fail to configure them properly, your site may display unwanted error messages to customers. 

About the author

Luke Fitzpatrick

Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program.

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