SSL or Secure Sockets Layer offer secure encrypted communication between websites and browser. They are the backbone of secure internet and help in safeguarding sensitive data and information when they move through the computer networks across the globe. It is important that website is protected even if the data or information is not sensitive, it helps in retaining personal privacy and security of the website and information of the user.
Any transaction made online involves submitting personal information of social security number, credit or debit card details, email ids, bank details, username or passwords, etc. There are many hackers who are always on the look-out for unencrypted communication and they can easily gain access to this data and use it for their personal gains.
People will punch in their personal information only if they trust your website and SSL Certificates are what provide them with authenticity.
In order to understand whether or not Free SSL certificates are actually worth it or not you need to understand the difference between the paid ones and free SSL Certificate.
What is a Free SSL Certificate?
Just like they are called these SSL Certificates are free and one of the reasons why they were made free was to give security to all – in short make https available to everyone. Free SSL Certificates is the ‘Self-Signed Certificate’ where there is no need of any sign of Certificate Authority, the issuer signs them. However the process of verification done is same.
What is a Paid SSL Certificate?
A paid SSL Certificate is signed and issued by a dependable Certificate Authority. It can be obtained directly from the website of the Certificate Authority or there are third parties who are known as Resellers that you can buy from.
What Does an SSL Certificate Do?
It is a digital file which comprises of a cryptographic key and other information to validate the ownership of a web server or a website. The key is given and validated by a ratified Certificate Authority. Operating system, mobile devices and browsers all maintain their list of approved Certificate Authorities. There is a trusted root CA store and the Certificate Authority should belong to this list. The authenticity of a certificate is visible to the public through the browser and lets them identify a secured website and go ahead by entrusting it with their credentials. This trust is visible in what is called as the ‘green padlock’ which is displayed on the address bar. A green padlock shows that the connection from the browser to the server which is hosting has been encrypted and is secure. Also the owner of the domain has been validated by the Certificate Authority.
Check the Image below for a green padlock. The lock icon, Secure and https: are all in green indicating you are on a secure website page.
The encryption is done using the latest standards and is same for both paid and free SSL Certificates. However, when it comes to using it in business or work purpose there are certain differences between them.
- A Free SSL Certificate will offer authentication for ownership of just one domain. So, there will be just one domain which can be secured with a Free SSL Certificate.
- A Free SSL Certificate lasts for a very short period about 30-90 days and the owner would then have to use additional maintenance to upkeep the validity of the SSL Certificate while Paid SSL Certificates usually last for a maximum period of 3 years.
- Along with this the depth of validation among the two are quite different. For example an Extended Validation SSL Certificate not only authenticates the owner of a domain but along with it validates the business that it says is the website’s owner. This is an added layer of security which tells the visitors how safe your website is. Using Extended Validation helps in keeping websites safe from hackers.
- Certificate Authority and Resellers of Paid SSL Certificate provide 24*7 support to their customers on email, call and chat. Free SSL Certificate customers are not as lucky and have to make their own way to solving their problems by looking up old posts in forum etc.
- There are times when there is a Catastrophic Failure of PKI from the Certificate Authority and those who have Free SSL Certificate cannot do anything about it but those who have Paid SSL Certificates are supported and covered by warranties.
There are so many big companies who use all the required possible ways to secure their websites and yet there are some who get compromised. With so much security around if there are chances that one penetrates the system what good is a website that has less security. Having a Free SSL Certificate maybe by a blogger or someone who has just started a website and is looking to save some money is ok. However, after sometime one would have to buy a Paid SSL Certificate so they can have more customers dealing on their website on a day-to-day basis. One shouldn’t be giving much thoughts to whether or not to buy a Paid SSL Certificate because ultimately the question is about your website being safe and secure. The conversion rates on websites using Paid SSL Certificates are definitely higher compared to the ones who use Free SSL Certificate – after all trust is what draws the users and viewers to your website. The returns in the investment made in a Paid SSL Certificate would be got back soon in ways of more sales or business.
If you are online on the web and doing business then free is not what you should be aiming at. You are here for long and a Free SSL Certificate is not going to help your business flourish because you won’t be getting enough customers. Invest in a Paid SSL Certificate and take your business ahead safely.