Understanding SSL: Types, Costs, Protection, and Common Myths

by | Digital Technology

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), now predominantly succeeded by Transport Layer Security (TLS), is a digital protocol that provides secure communication over the internet. It encrypts data transmitted between a web browser and a web server, ensuring that sensitive information like credit card numbers, login credentials, and other personal data remains private and secure. As cyber threats continue to evolve, SSL/TLS has become a fundamental component of web security, fostering trust and credibility for websites. This article delves into what SSL is, the different types available as per business use cases, how it protects websites, and addresses some common myths surrounding SSL.

What is SSL?

SSL is a cryptographic protocol designed to secure communications over computer networks. When a website is secured by SSL/TLS, it uses HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) instead of HTTP, indicating that the data sent and received is encrypted. The process involves the use of SSL certificates, which are digital certificates that authenticate the identity of a website and enable an encrypted connection.

Types of SSL Certificates

SSL certificates come in various forms, catering to different business needs and levels of security. The three main types are:

  • Domain Validated (DV) Certificates: DV certificates are the simplest form of SSL certification. They only require the website owner to prove domain ownership. This type is suitable for blogs and small websites where transactions are not processed. Cost-wise, DV certificates are the most affordable, with prices ranging from free to around $100 per year.
  • Organization Validated (OV) Certificates: OV certificates provide a medium level of security. They require more validation than DV certificates, including the verification of the organization’s existence through government and third-party databases. OV certificates are suitable for businesses and organizations that handle more sensitive information. Costs for OV certificates range from $50 to $300 annually.
  • Extended Validation (EV) Certificates: EV certificates offer the highest level of security and trust. The validation process is rigorous, requiring thorough verification of the organization’s legal, operational, and physical existence. EV certificates are ideal for large businesses and e-commerce sites, with costs ranging from $150 to over $1000 per year.

How SSL Protects Websites

SSL certificates protect websites in several key ways:

  • Encryption: SSL encrypts data in transit, preventing hackers from reading it as it passes between the web server and the web browser.
  • Data Integrity: It ensures that data is not tampered with during transmission, maintaining its integrity.
    Authentication: SSL authenticates the server to the client, confirming that users are communicating with the intended website and not a malicious imposter.

Common Myths Around SSL

Despite its importance, there are several misconceptions about SSL:

  • SSL Only for E-commerce Sites: While SSL is crucial for securing online transactions, it’s equally important for all websites to protect user data and enhance credibility.
  • SSL Slows Down Websites: Modern SSL/TLS protocols have been optimized for performance, with negligible impact on website speed. In fact, using HTTPS can improve search engine rankings and user trust.
  • SSL is Complicated to Implement: With advancements in technology, installing an SSL certificate has become more straightforward. Many web hosting providers offer easy-to-use SSL management tools and automatic installations.
  • Once Installed, No Further Action Required: SSL certificates have expiration dates and need to be renewed periodically. Additionally, website owners should regularly update their security protocols to combat new threats.


SSL/TLS is a critical component of web security, offering encryption, data integrity, and authentication to protect sensitive information online. Understanding the different types of SSL certificates and their appropriate use cases is essential for businesses to ensure adequate protection. Despite common myths, SSL does not significantly slow down websites nor is it exclusively necessary for e-commerce sites. Regular updates and renewals are vital to maintain security. By debunking these myths and recognizing the importance of SSL, website owners can better safeguard their sites and their users’ data.

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