Anytime your website visitors access your site, data gets transferred from server to server before it reaches its destination. As the internet evolves, so do its users (and those who wish to exploit them). Without a secure connection, that transmitted data is at risk. How do you protect your users, prospects, and customers as they browse? That's where SSLs come in.
What Is an SSL?
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. It ensures that all transferred data remains confidential.
You've seen a lock icon next to the URL in your address bar when you go to certain sites, right? That means the site is protected by SSL.
Your site should have SSL, especially if you use your site to process financial transactions. It will protect you from data breaches, and it gives visitors a good reason to trust you with sensitive information. It improves your rankings in search results as well.
But SSL certificates can be expensive if you don't know where to look or what you're buying.
How Much Is an SSL?
The cost of your SSL can range from free to hundreds of dollars, depending on the level of security you require. Here are the types of SSLs ranging from least secure to most secure (and, generally, lowest to highest in price):
Domain Validated (DV) Certificates - For sites, such as blogs or small business websites, that don't exchange any customer information.
Organization Validated (OV) Certificates - For sites, such as business websites with forms and lead capture capabilities, that don't exchange sensitive customer information.
Extended Validated (EV) Certificates - Highest level of security, capable of handling sensitive information such as financial transactions.
How to Get an SSL Certificate
Once you choose the type of certificate you require, you can then shop around for Certificate Issuers that offer SSLs at that level. Getting your SSL amounts to the following steps:
Ensuring your WHOIS record is updated and matches what you're submitting to the Certificate Issuer.
Generating the Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server. (Your hosting company can help with this.)
Submitting this to the Certificate Issuer to validate your domain.
Installing the certificate they provide you once the process is complete.
Best Free and Low-Cost SSL Certificate Issuers
If you require a lower level of encryption, the following issuers will get the job done:
Let's Encrypt was created by the Linux Foundation, and the project was sponsored by Mozilla, Site Ground, Cisco, Facebook, Akamai, and other top tech companies. It offers SSL certificates free of cost, but you should be aware that these certificates are only valid for three months.
Comodo offers 90-day free trials for SSL certificates, and they're recognized by all major browsers. You can cover up to 100 domains with a single certificate.
It's specially designed for MS Exchange and Office servers. Comodo offers unlimited server licenses with priority phone support. And, most importantly, Comodo is certified as a Best Seller of SSL certificates.
Cloudflare is known for their products that make websites faster and more secure. It's a CDN and security company that's used by many popular sites, including Reddit, Mozilla, and Stack Overflow. Cloud Flare blocks millions of attacks every day and provides 24/7 support.
SSL For Free is a nonprofit certificate authority, and it works on all major browsers. The certificates are generated with the help of ACME server by using domain validation. Once the document is created, the private keys are deleted.
You've heard of GoDaddy — with over 60 million domains, it's the world’s #1 name registrar. If you have an open source project, GoDaddy will provide you with a free SSL certificate that's valid for a year.
GoGetSSL is another public SSL certificate provider. It gives you a 90-day free trial for SSL certificates, and it only takes about five minutes to get your domain validated (no callback or face-to-face verification required). Their certificates are compatible with all major browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer.