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A handy guide to the different SSL types

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Want to get an SSL for your site but can’t figure out the difference between single domain, multi-domain, and Wildcard SSL? Then you’ve come to the right place. This article will go through the ins and outs of each of these different SSL types and how to know which one you should choose.

Read on to find out more.

What is a single-domain SSL

The name says it all. This type of SSL certificate is ideal if you only have one website to secure. It will protect both the www and non-www versions of the site.

What is a multi-domain SSL

Again, the name is pretty self-explanatory. If you have multiple domains to secure, this is the way to go. Generally, this type of SSL conveniently secures 3-100 domain seats under one certificate, which is a lot easier than keeping track of multiple single domain SSLs certificates.

What is a Wildcard SSL?

A Wildcard SSL is the least self-explanatory of the lot. Basically, it secures one primary domain and multiple subdomains linked to it. Typically the number of subdomains you can secure is unlimited — you can protect as many as you want under this SSL type. And like the multi-domain, it’s a lot more convenient to secure multiple subdomains with a single SSL rather than several.

Validation levels

Once you’ve figured out which kind of SSL is best for your particular website situation, you’ll need to consider how much validation you need for your site. Validation refers to the extent of background checks the issuing Certificate Authority will perform on you and your company (if you have one).

Although this has no bearing on the strength of your SSL (all current SSL certificates have the same level of encryption), the information the Certificate Authority finds will be displayed in your SSL certificate. Website visitors will see information about the SSL requestor when they click on the SSL padlock symbol in the address bar.

A good rule of thumb is, the more you ask of your website visitor, the higher your validation level should be. If someone stumbles across a new e-commerce store, they’ll want to know that the person running it is legit. Seeing their name and company in the SSL will help with this.

The three validation levels are:

Domain validation (DV): The most basic validation level, the Certificate Authority, basically checks that you have permission to access the domain in question. Ideal if you have a personal website that doesn’t require users to hand over personal information.

Organization validation (OV): A little more extensive than DV, your company’s existence is usually verified through a phone call.

Extended validation (EV): The most extensive of background checks, the Certificate Authority will check your company’s existence against government records to ensure that it is a registered legal entity.

Conclusion

You should now understand the best option for securing your site with an SSL certificate. Just remember to make a decision and get one ASAP so that your website will load in web browsers and visitors can be confident that your site is safe and secure.

 

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