Skip to content

SSL Certificates: What You Need to Know

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report published at the end of 2021, about 4.9 billion people used the Internet that year. This represents a jump of 800 million more people than before the pandemic.

This means that every day, an immeasurable amount of data is made available on the web, including sensitive information such as names, addresses, document numbers, and bank details.

Therefore, malicious agents have a large space to act, breaking into websites and stealing passwords and financial information, among other data that may be useful for their criminal practices.

Key ways to hack into a website include:

  • Software vulnerability or poor server or network configuration;
  • Vulnerability of the website itself;
  • Weak passwords;
  • Attacks on those responsible for the websites.

One of the ways to protect your website is by deploying SSL certificates. They protect the communication between the server and the user. In addition, they are required for websites that receive payments and allow their customers to feel secure knowing who they are interacting with.

For these reasons, we prepared special content about SSL certificates, explaining their concept, importance, and operation, among other information. To facilitate your reading, we divided our text into topics. They are:

  1. What Are SSL Certificates
  2. What Is The Importance of SSL Certificates
  3. Types of SSL Certificates
  4. Subdomains
  5. How They Work
  6. How to Tell if a Website Has the Certificate
  7. How to Install SSL Certificate on a Website
  8. Are SSL Certificates Enough to Ensure the Security of a Website?
  9. What Are SSL and TLS
  10. What Are the Differences Between SSL and TLS
  11. Best Practices for the Security of Your Website
  12. History of SSL Certificates
  13. Digital Certificates: Learn about Their Characteristics
  14. Digital Certificates in the World
  15. Different Uses of Digital Certificates
  16. About senhasegura
  17. Conclusion

    Follow our text to the end!

What Are SSL Certificates

SSL certificates consist of data files hosted on a source server of a website, which make it more secure as they move from HTTP to HTTPS.

Their function is to authenticate the identity of the website and allow the encryption of the connection, as they contain the identity of the website and the public key, plus other information.

Therefore, when establishing communication between a device and the source server, SSL certificates are used to give access to the public key and confirm the identity of that server. Meanwhile, the private key remains secret.

What Is The Importance of SSL Certificates

Using SSL certificates provides several benefits, such as:

Data Protection
Their main purpose is to protect communication between the client and the server. For this reason, all bits of information are encrypted with the installation of SSL certificates. In practice, this information is blocked so that only the browser or server has the key to unlock it. With this, SSL technology allows the administration of sensitive data such as passwords, credit card numbers, and IDs without causing vulnerabilities when there are malicious agents.

They Enable Identity Verification
SSL certificates also make it possible to perform identity verification, providing security for those who use the Internet. This is because the digital environment is a fertile space for many types of scams, but this tool allows people to confirm who they are talking to before passing their data to fake websites.

When installing an SSL certificate, the user goes through a process called Validation Authority, which can validate their identity and their company’s, in addition to allowing them to receive reliable indicators.

It works like a verified Twitter account, but this is done on your website so that no cybercriminals create another one pretending to be yours, a practice known as spoofing.

They Are Critical to Receiving Payouts
If you have a business and receive payments through your website, you need to invest in SSL certificates. This is because they are among the 12 criteria required by the payment card industry (PCI). In other words, it is a fundamental resource for their transitions.

They Contribute to Optimizing Website Ranking in Search Engines
When you enable your website for HTTPS, it achieves higher rankings in search engines like Google, which since 2014 has favored this type of website. That’s what SEO experts around the world say, based on studies like the one by Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko.com.

Nowadays, when customers carry out most of their research on the Internet, this represents a great competitive advantage.

Detailed Traffic Data
If your website does not use HTTPs, you are missing information about the visits it receives. This is because when a secure browsing website uses referral links to an unsecured website, it appears as direct access, since HTTP websites do not receive referral data from HTTPS websites.

On the other hand, if you invest in SSL certificates, you will have access to your website’s traffic data in detail, regardless of its source.

SSL Certificates Favor Client Confidence
SSL certificates are important to ensure client confidence. This is because they let you know your data is protected. In addition, by installing an OV or EV SSL, it is possible to show your company in detail, ensuring it is a legitimate organization and enabling your business.

Free Installation
Supported by companies such as Facebook, Cisco, and Mozilla, a movement called Let’s Encrypt has democratized the use of SSL certificates, promoting their free and integrated installation to the control panel, even in the case of shared hosting.

Today, this solution is affordable. Even WordPress users can activate it through a special plan and generate more results for their business.

Types of SSL Certificates

There are three types of SSL certificates. They are: Extended Validation SSL (EV SSL), Organization Validation (OV SSL), and Domain Validation (DV SSL). Below, we explain each one in detail:

  • Extended Validation SSL Certificate (EV SSL)
    The Extended Validation SSL Certificate (SSL EV) allows the Certificate Authority to verify the applicant can use the chosen domain name, in addition to performing a company verification.

    To issue an Extended Validation SSL Certificate (SSL EV), it is necessary to contemplate the EV standards approved in 2007 by the CA/Browser Forum, going through the following stages:

  • Confirmation of the operational, physical, and legal existence of the organization;
  • Validation of the official records of the entity;
  • Verify if it has an exclusive right to use the chosen domain; and
  • Confirm there is an adequate authorization for the issuance of the EV SSL certificate.

    All types of organizations can benefit from EV SSL, but must comply with EV audit guidelines and undergo audits every year.

Organization Validation Certificates (OV SSL)
In this type of certificate, it is also checked whether the applicant can use a certain domain name, in addition to the institution’s validations. One of its greatest advantages is the trust provided to the user, since by clicking on the seal of the Secure Website, customers receive information, which increases their visibility about who is behind the website.

Domain Validation Certificates (DV SSL)
Another case in which CA verifies whether the applicant can use a given domain name. However, here, data related to the company’s identity is not validated and displayed, only encryption.

In this way, the user knows their data is encrypted, but cannot know who receives this information. The great advantage of this type of certificate is its almost immediate issuance, without sending the entity’s documentation. In addition, DV SSL still has an affordable cost.

Subdomains

Another way to differentiate SSL certificates is by taking into account the number of subdomains they have. Thus, they are divided into three: single-domain SSL, multi-domain SSL, and wildcard SSL. Check out their characteristics below:

Single-Domain SSL
As its name suggests, this SSL provides certificates for a single domain. When the entity needs other certificates, it needs to re-hire the service, which makes the domain types below more advantageous options.

Multi-domain SSL
One can use these SSL certificates in all categories (SSL EV, SSL OV, and SSL DV) and validate more than one domain with the same certificate. However, this service is limited, so we recommend you review the number of domains and subdomains covered by the certificate before opting for multi-domain SSL.

Wildcard SSL
Perfect for websites that need encryption security and have many domains, as it covers an unlimited number of domains. It includes VD SSL and OD SSL domain certificates.

How Do They Work?

When you enter sensitive data on a website that has SSL certificates, it is automatically encrypted and accessed only by the applicant.

With the protection of the encryption key, if there is a hacker attack and your information is intercepted, the malicious agent will not be able to view your data.

What’s more: SSL certificates also have the function of assuring the user they are accessing a legitimate website and not a page used for scams.

Through the lock symbol next to the URL, you can feel secure accessing a website and performing operations within it, which is positive for those who use your page for business.

How to Tell if a Website Has the Certificate

Websites that have SSL certificates display the symbol of a lock on the browser bar before HTTPS, as mentioned in the previous topic. This detail points out that entering your data on the website is a secure procedure, without risks related to hackers.

In this sense, all pages must have SSL certificates, especially those where credit card or username and password data are entered. Therefore, it is essential to verify that the HTTPS actually appears in the address.

Another important purpose of SSL certificates is to ensure the legitimacy of the website, providing security to its users.

How to Tell if a Website Has the Certificate

Websites that have SSL certificates display the symbol of a lock on the browser bar before HTTPS, as mentioned in the previous topic. This detail points out that entering your data on the website is a secure procedure, without risks related to hackers.

In this sense, all pages must have SSL certificates, especially those where credit card or username and password data are entered. Therefore, it is essential to verify that the HTTPS actually appears in the address.

Another important purpose of SSL certificates is to ensure the legitimacy of the website, providing security to its users.

How to Install SSL Certificate on a Websit

To obtain an SSL certificate, you will need a Certificate Authority (CA), which consists of a trusted organization capable of signing the certificate with its keys, certifying its validity. This service may be charged, but there are also free alternatives.

Then, your certificate must be installed on the website’s server, which can be facilitated with a quality host and a provider that takes responsibility for this task.

Once you have enabled the SSL certificate, you will be able to load your website over HTTPS and secure its encryption.

Are SSL Certificates Enough to Ensure the Security of a Website?

Information propagated around SSL certificates suggests that their implementation would be enough to ensure the security of a website. This is because when you adhere to this solution, the lock icon appears next to the URL, suggesting protection.

However, despite effective, SSL certificates are not enough to combat the action of cybercriminals, since the interception of the information exchanged between the user and the website is not their only means of action.

Moreover, if SSL deployment does not occur properly, not everything on the website will be protected by encryption. In these cases, the browser will still indicate a protected connection, which can generate a false sense of security.

Other exploits that can make the exchange of information risky include Scripting between websites, MIME mismatches, and Clickjacking.

These practices are widely used by malicious agents to obtain information exchanged between websites and users.

What Are SSL and TLS?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is an encrypted protocol that provides security when navigating HTTP pages, accessing an email (SMTP), or transferring data in some other way.

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Protocol came later and also guarantees security for website access. Through this feature, one can encrypt sensitive data so that it is not used by malicious actors.

TLS, in turn, represents a more current and efficient version of SSL, used to configure emails and provide security in information exchanges.

What Are the Differences Between SSL and TLS?

TLS works on different ports and uses more efficient encryption algorithms, including the Keyed ? Hashing for Message Authentication Code (HMAC), while the algorithm used by SSL is the Message Authentication Code (MAC).

These features provide protection in Internet communication protocols (TCP/IP), making it possible to view HTTP and HTTPS terminations.

In the case of HTTP, data travels freely, while HTTPS allows you to encrypt the data through SSL/TLS. To do this, the user needs to set up a secure connection.

Best Practices for the Security of Your Website

In addition to the implementation of SSL certificates, other practices are required to ensure the security of your website. Among them, we can highlight:

Employee Training and Awareness
Information security should be a constant concern in your company, so in addition to investing in technology, it is extremely important to make your employees aware of the risks involved in online interactions and train them to deal with these threats.

Use Plugins Focused on the Security of Your Website
One of the great advantages of using WordPress is the availability of plugins specifically designed to ensure the security of your website. Among the options, we highlight: VaultPress, WordFence, Sucuri, and Defender.

Choose a Good Host
Check the host options available in the market and choose the one that addresses all the demands of your company, including the security of your website users and your business strategy.

History of SSL Certificates
In 1990, the HTTP protocol emerged as a form of communication and became indispensable because of its practicality. However, this protocol did not provide protection for connections and for people who needed to enter their data on web pages.

Three years later, they tried to make this interaction more secure through the S-HTTP protocol, without great success.
The following year, Netscape produced the first version of SSL in order to provide security in communication between servers and clients that took place on the Internet.

Due to its numerous flaws, this version was never officially released, but in 1995, it would be replaced by a second version and, in 1996, by a third improved version.

In 1999, TLS 1.0, an upgrade of SSL V3, emerged, with little difference. Seven years later, in 2006, it was time to release TLS 1.1, which was already very different from its first version.

The changes that came in 2008 with TLS 1.2 were even more pronounced, and made it impossible to downgrade to versions before SSL V3.

In 2015, an outline of what TLS 1.3 would be, designed from the version that preceded it, began.

Digital Certificates: Learn about Their Characteristics

The provisional measure 2020-1 of 2001 enabled the creation of the Brazilian Public Key Infrastructure (ICP Brazil), which operates through the National Institute of Information Technology, an agency linked to the Civil House of the Presidency of the Republic.

From then on, it became possible to issue digital certificates, electronic documents that provide legal validity to operations carried out remotely.

In Brazil, the public key infrastructure is used, which we also call a single-root certificate. In practice, the management committee of ICP-Brasil approves technical and operational standards that must be performed by each Root Certificate Authority.

There are also Certificate Authority (CA) in Brazil, which consist of institutions that issue, distribute, renew, revoke, and manage digital certificates. Another purpose of these entities is to make sure the user has the private key corresponding to the public one, through a process called asymmetric encryption.

It works like this: each person or entity holding a digital certificate has access to two codes: a private certificate, which must be kept confidential, and a public certificate, which can be shared.

This means that whenever a document is encoded with the public key, it can only be decoded using the private key.
Another body associated with the Certificate Units is the Registration Authority (RA), which facilitates the interaction between the Certificate Units and the users, and the Time Certificate Authority, responsible for verifying the timing of the interaction and carrying out legal validation.

Several types of digital certificates differ according to the level of security they provide and their applications. These are:

Type A Certificate: This is a digital certificate used to sign any type of document. It is widely used by self-employed professionals, private organizations, and public agencies that need to save time and financial resources, with quick validations for several documents.

Type S Certificate: It consists of a certificate whose decoding can only be performed by those who have authorization. Therefore, if you work with sensitive documents, which include data such as monetary values and personal information, this is your best alternative.

Type T Certificate: This certificate must be used with the other models. This is because it records the date and time of digital transactions, ensuring this information remains in the files without changing.

Type A, S, or T1 Security: All certificates are secure, but type 1 is the one that provides the least security. This certificate is accessible due to the way keys are generated, with a process done by a program on the computer. It is valid for one year, as it can be accessed using a username and password.

Type A, S, or T3 Security: Type 3 digital certificates are generated and stored in a token or smart card. Therefore, only authorized people can access them, making the operation more secure and with a longer expiration time: three years.

Type A, S, or T4 Security: Here we are talking about ICP-Brasil’s most secure digital certificate model. Your private key is generated and stored within the Encryption Security Module and only allows copying to HSM. It is an inviolable model, which erases data if an invasion occurs. So, it is also known as a digital vault.

Digital certificates are increasingly useful for companies and manage a large number of files and sensitive data. After all, they allow files to be sent over the Internet without being misplaced or corrupted.

In addition, since 2018, there is the NF-e 4.0 version, which makes it possible to issue tax documents without using paper. However, those who want to adopt this electronic model to issue tax receipts need to rely on a digital certificate, because it enables the interaction between the servers of the Federal Revenue Service and the computers of the organization.

Digital Certificates in the World

Digital certificates are not a mechanism used only in Brazil. Other nations have also adhered to this resource in their daily lives.

To begin with, the National Identification Document (DIN), which is being implemented in Brazil, is similar to the models used by other countries, in order to bring agility, ease, and security to citizens.

In DIN, the user identification data is gathered in a chipped device, where professional documents and digital certificates can also be included.

Among the countries that have already joined the electronic signature to authenticate documents, the following stand out:

  • The United States;
  • Mexico;
  • Indonesia;
  • China;
  • Turkey;
  • Switzerland; and
  • Member states of the European Union.

With the mandatory digital identification system for all citizens, Estonia is an example of the efficiency of digital certificates to reduce bureaucracy. There, the process of selling and transferring a vehicle is completed in 15 minutes.

In addition, Estonians can use the same documentation for healthcare, access to bank accounts, distance voting, and identification when traveling in the European Union.

In Spain, people have a single document called DNI, which is integrated into the digital certificate and groups user information.

This documentation includes data on biometrics and can be used to drive a vehicle, travel, and report income tax via the Internet.

Currently, regulations related to digital identification are not shared between countries and each nation has its own mechanisms, security practices, and an ICP of its own.

However, with the need to sign documents online, international agreements may soon be made to allow the use of certificates beyond this barrier.

Different Uses of Digital Certificates

Here’s how the different types of digital certificates are used:
As we have already mZentioned in this article, digital certificates are used by websites, providing trust and security to their users.

Another widely used mode is in emails, to identify users, or to enable the digital signature of documents.
They are also used in credit and debit cards via chips that connect banks to commercial establishments in order to enable secure banking transactions.

They are also useful to digital payment companies that need to authenticate kiosks, ATMs, and vending equipment through their data center.

To counter cyber threats and protect intellectual property, a large number of organizations are inserting digital certificates into the IoT devices they operate.

People who develop computer programs also use digital certificates to prevent device cloning and theft of broadband services.

About senhasegura

Senhasegura is part of the MT4 Tecnologia group, which was founded in 2001, focusing on information security.
Present in 54 countries, the company aims to provide cybersecurity to its clients, who now have control over actions and privileged data.

With this, organizations can avoid disruptions related to the performance of malicious actors and information leaks.
The work of senhasegura assumes that digital sovereignty is a right of all and that applied technology is the only way to achieve this goal.

Therefore, it follows the life cycle of privileged access management, before, during, and after access, relying on machine automation, since managing privileged access manually is not enough. Among its commitments, the following stand out:

  • Provide more efficiency and productivity to companies, while avoiding interruptions due to expiration;
  • Perform automatic audits on the use of privileges;
  • Automatically audit privileged changes to detect abuses;
  • Ensure client satisfaction through successful deployments;
  • Provide advanced PAM capabilities;
  • Reduce risks quickly;
  • Bring companies into compliance with audit criteria and standards such as PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001, and HIPAA.

Conclusion

By reading this article, you saw that:

  • SSL certificates are data files hosted on the source server of a website, which make it more secure by allowing them to move from HTTP to HTTPS;
  • Their main function is to provide security to the communication between the client and the server;
  • Their technology makes it possible to manage sensitive data such as passwords, credit card numbers, and IDs without causing vulnerabilities;
  • SSL certificates make it possible to perform identity validation, as with Twitter accounts, but on websites;
  • They are essential to receive payments through a website;
  • When you enable your website for HTTPS, it achieves higher rankings in search engines like Google;
  • Whoever invests in SSL certificates has access to detailed data about their website visits, regardless of their origin;
  • SSL certificates ensure the legitimacy of your company, leaving your customers assured that their data is protected;
  • One can install an SSL certificate for free;
  • There are three types of certificates: Extended Validation SSL Certificate (EV SSL), Organization Validation Certificates (OV SSL), and Domain Validation Certificates (DV SSL);
  • They can also be classified according to the number of subdomains they present, such as single-domain SSL, multi-domain SSL, and wildcard SSL;
  • Websites that have SSL certificates can be identified by the lock symbol, which is in the browser bar, before https;
  • To install this feature on a website, you must have a certification authority (CA);
  • Although effective, SSL certificates are not enough to combat the action of malicious agents;
  • SSL and TLS provide protection in Internet communication protocols (TCP/IP);
  • You have also learned about best practices for your website security and the history of SSL certificates.
  • Another topic shared in this article was the creation of ICP Brasil, which allows issuing digital certificates, providing legal validity to operations carried out remotely.
  • There are different types of digital certificates, which can be used for the most diverse purposes.

    Was our text on SSL certificates helpful to you? Then share it with someone who might benefit from this content.

About Version 2
Version 2 is one of the most dynamic IT companies in Asia. The company develops and distributes IT products for Internet and IP-based networks, including communication systems, Internet software, security, network, and media products. Through an extensive network of channels, point of sales, resellers, and partnership companies, Version 2 offers quality products and services which are highly acclaimed in the market. Its customers cover a wide spectrum which include Global 1000 enterprises, regional listed companies, public utilities, Government, a vast number of successful SMEs, and consumers in various Asian cities.

About Senhasegura
Senhasegura strive to ensure the sovereignty of companies over actions and privileged information. To this end, we work against data theft through traceability of administrator actions on networks, servers, databases and a multitude of devices. In addition, we pursue compliance with auditing requirements and the most demanding standards, including PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001 and HIPAA.

×

Hello!

Click one of our contacts below to chat on WhatsApp

×