What is SSL & What Are The Different Types You Can Use

What is SSL & What Are The Different Types You Can Use

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is an internet protocol for securing data transfer between a user’s browser and the website they are visiting.

It is an encryption-based Internet security protocol developed for the purpose of ensuring privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications.

Every internet user transfers information when they visit websites. This information can often be sensitive like payment details, credit/debit card information, or login credentials. 

Using the normal HTTP protocol means this information can be hijacked by hackers. This is where SSL or HTTPS comes in.

Websites using SSL need a SSL certificate issued by one of the recognized certificate issuing authority.

This certificate is verified and highlighted in user’s browser address bar with a padlock sign and HTTPS instead of HTTP as shown below.

How Does SSL Certificate Work? 

In the same way that you lock and unlock doors using a key, encryption makes use of keys to lock and unlock your information. Unless you have the right key, you will
not be able to “open” the information.

Each SSL session consists of two keys:

• The public key is used to encrypt (scramble) the information.
• The private key is used to decrypt (un-scramble) the information and restore it to its original format so that it can be read.

When a user visits an SSL/HTTPs website, their browser first verifies if the website’s SSL certificate is valid.

If everything checks out, then the browser uses special keys to encrypt the data transfer. This data is then sent back to the intended server (website) where it is decrypted using the unique SSL key.


How To Get Free SSL Certificate

Many website owners are reluctant to use SSL due to the additional cost. This left many of these websites vulnerable to data and information theft.

A non-profit project called Let’s Encrypt decided to fix this issue by establishing a free certificate authority. Due to the significance of the project, it quickly earned the support of major companies like Google Chrome, Facebook, Shopify, WordPress.com and many others.

If you want to install Let’s Encrypt by yourself, then you will need to have coding knowledge, server know-how, and Shell / SSH access to use command line tools. This makes it quite difficult for beginners to properly setup Let’s Encrypt SSL.

Thankfully, some of the best web hosting companies in Nigeria are now offering free SSL certificate with majority of their hosting plans powered by Let’s Encrypt.

Choosing one of them saves you from the hassle of installing a SSL certificate on your own. But come to think of it, what is Let’s Encrypt?


What is Let’s Encrypt?

Let’s Encrypt as we have seen above makes the whole ball of this game interested, if not for this project, probably we all have to pay thousands of naira for SSL certificate if you want to remain relevant in Google eye in the online space.

Let’s Encrypt is an open and automated certificate authority that uses the ACME (Automatic Certificate Management Environment ) protocol to provide free TLS/SSL certificates to any compatible client. These certificates can be used to encrypt communication between your web server and your users.

Officially launched on April 2016, Let’s Encrypt has been in existence since 2012, it was started by two Mozilla employees. Their goal? It’s pretty simple really; to encrypt the entire web and make it a more privacy-respecting place.

It might sound kind of crazy, but as you know, Google has been heavily pushing for HTTPS everywhere over the past few years. And Let’s Encrypt really has started to make a huge dent in the industry, especially as it pertains to free SSL hosting.

Certificate Authorities (CA) are the ones that issue SSL/TLS certificates, which are responsible for encrypting your data and e-commerce transactions. Not just anyone can suddenly become a certificate authority, because they require the trust of many different platforms.

Browsers and devices trust a certificate authority (CA) by accepting the root certificate into its root store, which is basically a database of approved CAs that come pre-installed with the browser or device.

Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, all have their own root stores. So to become a CA, you need to have the trust of some of the biggest names in the industry. When Let’s Encrypt first launched they received cross-signatures from IdenTrust (which gave them trust by all major browsers).

For web hosting providers in Nigeria, Let’s Encrypt has now enabled them to make deploying SSL certificates a one-click process! And the great news is, everything is instant and automated.


Different Types of SSL Certificates?

There are three types of SSL Certificate available today; Extended Validation (EV SSL), Organization Validated (OV SSL) and Domain Validated (DV SSL). The encryption levels are the same for each certificate, what differs is the vetting and verification processes needed to obtain the certificate and the look and feel of in the browser address bar.

Over the last few years the number of organizations using SSL Certificates has increased dramatically. The applications for which SSL is being used have also expanded. For example: you might need SSL for privacy in communication (to ensure you are not being snooped on), or you might wish to prove you can trust who you are talking to (identity in private communication).

With encryption, you are able to hide communications from a hacker but you cannot stop them from intercepting communications and posing as your website to steal information from your customers.

As people move away from brick and mortar stores and increase their online shopping and banking habits, consumers have to be able to trust they are visiting the true website of the store they are shopping on. This is more difficult to prove online.

You can prove your identity by having an external third-party vet your personal and company information. Based on this verification or vetting procedure, SSL Certificates can be broken down into three categories.


1. Extended Validation (EV SSL) Certificates

With an EV SSL, the Certificate Authority (CA) checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name plus, it conducts a thorough vetting of the organization. The issuance process of EV SSL Certificates is strictly defined in the EV Guidelines, as formally ratified by the CA/Browser forum in 2007. All the steps required for a CA before issuing a certificate are specified here including:

  • verifying the legal, physical and operational existence of the entity,
  • verifying that the identity of the entity matches official records,
  • verifying that the entity has exclusive right to use the domain specified in the EV SSL Certificate,
  • and verifying that the entity has properly authorized the issuance of the EV SSL Certificate.

The latest, and possibly most significant, advancement in SSL technology since its initial inception follows the standardized Extended Validation guidelines. New high security browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 7+, Opera 9.5+, Firefox 3+, Google Chrome, Apple Safari 3.2+ and iPhone Safari 3.0+ identify Extended SSL Certificates and activate the browser interface security enhancements, such as the green bar or green font. For customers who wish to assert the highest levels of authenticity, this is the ideal solution.

EV SSL Certificates are available for all types of businesses, including government entities and both incorporated and unincorporated businesses. A second set of guidelines, the EV Audit Guidelines, specify the criteria under which a CA needs to be successfully audited before issuing EV SSL Certificates. The audits are repeated yearly to ensure the integrity of the issuance process.

Example of EV SSL Certificate in chrome


2. Organization Validated (OV SSL) Certificates

The CA checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name PLUS it conducts some vetting of the organization. Additional vetted company information is displayed to customers when clicking on the Secure Site Seal, giving enhanced visibility in who is behind the site and associated enhanced trust.

Organization name also appears in the certificate under the ON field.

3. Domain Validated (DV SSL) Certificates

The CA checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name. No company identity information is vetted and no information is displayed other than encryption information within the Secure Site Seal. While you can be sure that your information is encrypted, you cannot be sure who is truly at the receiving end of that information.

DV SSL Certificates are fully supported and share the same browser recognition with OV SSL, but come with the advantage of being issued almost immediately and without the need to submit company paperwork. This makes DV SSL ideal for businesses needing a free or low cost SSL quickly and without the effort of submitting company documents.

Benefit Of SSL Certificate

By having access to Let’s Encrypt, this means you no longer have to mess with the confusing process of obtaining your certificate keys, private keys, debugging your intermediate certificate, or generating a CSR. The process for getting an SSL certificate on your website and migrating to HTTPS become a lot easier! It is basically now a one-click integration. Let’s Encrypt is also completely safe.

It is backed by corporations and ventures such as Automattic, Mozilla, Cisco, Google Chrome, Facebook, Sucuri – just to name a few.

And you can’t beat free. The SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt by design, expire every 90 days. However, many of the web host we have listed above renews them for you automatically behind the scenes. So if you host with any of these listed companies above, you can be rest assured that your ssl certificate will be auto renewed.

It is important to note though that Let’s Encrypt only supports domain validated certificates. This means you will get a green padlock in the address bar on your website, such as seen below.

However, they don’t offer Organization Validation or Extended Validation certificates. This means the certificates won’t have a warranty, which is insurance for an end user against loss of money when submitting a payment on an SSL-secured site.

We expect that Let’s Encrypt won’t support EV, because the EV process will always require human effort, which will require paying someone. Their model is to issue certificates free of charge, which requires a level automation that doesn’t seem compatible with EV. – Seth Schoen, Certbot Engineer

So if you are an enterprise or large business Let’s Encrypt might not be for you. But the good news is it should work great for the large majority of websites out there.

Let’s Encrypt provide two types of certificates. The standard single domain SSL and the Wildcard SSL. While single domain SSL secure only the domain, A wildcard certificate can secure any number of subdomains (e.g. *.domain.com). This allows the use of a single certificate and key pair for a domain and all of its subdomains, which can make HTTPS deployment significantly easier.

Both types of SSL certificates are issued for a period of 90 days, which can be renewed automatically. These certificates are domain-validated, don’t require a dedicated IP and are supported on all major listed web hosting companies above.

In a nutshell, when you use SSL Certificate, you enjoy these benefits:

  • Your data is now encrypted and secure. No plain text is ever passed. This is important for e-commerce transactions of course, but also for even logging into your site.
  • Google has officially said that HTTPS is a ranking factor.
  • The green padlock bar helps build trust and credibility for your visitors.
  • Enable you to avoid the Chrome warning of non secure on your domain name
  • Better and more accurate referral data. By default, HTTPS to HTTP referral data is blocked in Google Analytics.
  • By using Let’s Encrypt and enabling HTTPS you can benefit from HTTP/2 on your site, which means performance improvements.


….read also


Top 10 Best Web Host That Give Free SSL in Nigeria

If you are already using one of these companies, then you can turn on your free SSL certificate from your hosting dashboard or cpanel.

You can also ask your hosting provider to enable it for you.

If your web hosting company does not offer free SSL, then is time to switch your hosting and move your sites to one of the companies below.

Web HostHosting Package With Free SSLRead ReviwVisite Site
QserversShared Hosting
E-commerce hosting
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DomainkingShared HostingRead ReviewVisit Host
SpeedyConnectLimitless HostingRead ReviewVisit Host
HostNowNowShared Hosting
Limitless Hosting
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WhoGoHostShared Hosting
WordPress Hosting
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GaranntorShared Hosting
Windows Hosting
WordPress Hosting
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Hub8Shared HostingRead ReviewVisit Host
Web4africaShared HostingRead ReviewVisit Host
UtiwareShared Hosting
Window Hosting
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Betahost247Shared HostingRead ReviewVisit Host


Some of the key feature of free SSL Certificate are:

  • Issued online in minutes with no paperwork or delays
  • Signed from the same trusted root as paid certificates
  • Recognized by all major browsers and devices
  • Free SSL Certificate

Trust makes all the difference in the world of online business.

Investment in technology to protect customers and earn their trust is a critical success factor for any company that does business online or hosts an e-commerce website.

The effective implementation of SSL certificates and correct placement and use of trust marks are proven tools in the establishment of customer trust.

Take advantage of these free SSL Certificate and secure your online business. If you are not on a web host that offer these great feature, then you can easily move or host with any of these top web hosting companies in Nigeria that are listed above.


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