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What About Free Secure Socket Layers - SSL?

A Secure Socket Layer Certificate is a means of securing the connection and communication from the guests’ computer to the website so the guest can be assured that any information entered or displayed on the website can’t be viewed by anyone else on the internet. Google requires SSL Certificates to be in place to have functional search results without announcing a connection danger. Many search engines will rank non-SSL websites lower in search results. Whether you are publishing a small information-only website or selling products online, you should seriously consider whether a subscribed or free SSL best fits your goals and objectives. 

A SSL Certificate is a digital file that maintains information to authenticate the identity of a website or server, and encrypts data sent to the server. Encryption means scrambling data into an undecipherable format which can only be unscrambled with the proper decryption key.  The SSL Certificate applies to both desktop and mobile devices. Browsers will trust certificates issued by authenticated, pre-listed authorities. The browser identifies the valid certificate visually so that a website visitor can quickly conclude they are in a private search mode. It is usually represented as a green padlock graphic in the address bar. This also indicates that the owner of the domain is known and validated.

The encryption coding is the same for a free SSL versus a subscribed SSL and both are mutually honored by browsers. However, the Free SSL only authenticates the domain’s ownership. Paid, subscribed, SSLs will include more detailed validation.  For example, an Extended Validation SSL Certificate authenticates the owner of the domain and the validity of the business that is put forth in the website. This added layer of authentication will help visitors trust the website and business as one.

Extended Validation or Organization Validation can help avoid phishing (dishonest method of getting information and possibly infecting users with a virus.) If phishing attempts are made, it can be detected by the omission of the website details and its purpose. Visitors will not see the trusted certificate if it leads to a website that is not part of your domain and is not trusted.

“Free” Secure Socket Layers are available but do require thirty to ninety-day renewals depending on the vendor. It requires the host to generate a new certificate request from the hosting server to the client, and for the client to then renew with the free provider.  In turn, they send back the certificate to the host and the host must take the certificate and export it into a format that can be use with the client’s website; and then save the certificate to web server(s).  This is obviously labor intensive. The process will require frequent communication between the host and client, along with training on how to create the certificate with the free provider, plus training on the part of the host to adapt to the certificate provider’s terms of use. It is estimated to take up to an hour per renewal if all parties are familiar with the process

Another way to implement a “Free SSL” would be for the host to choose a select group of SSL vendors and generate the SSL on all points, which would require additional personnel to maintain the host’s accounts. Once again, this method falls far short of being “free” when such labor is required.

Subscribed SSL Certificates can offer additional benefits, which can vary between providers but most commonly include securing more than one domain on a single certificate, and or wildcards certificates. 

A wildcard certificate is one certificate which can cover all sub domains, examples of sub domains: www, exchange, webmail, remote, etc.

Paid SSL Certificates may offer different features. Some Certified Authorities include tech support, insurance, warranties, etc. Consider all the alternatives when choosing an SSL installation. 

Contact us today for a free consultation on how to choose your ideal SSL at 866.491.7500.

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