Getting Started with SSL Certificate

Table of Contents

To make the Internet a safer place, search engines like Google strongly encourage websites owner to install Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. This SSL certificate encrypts all visitor data and ensures users that the information they access on the website is safe.

What is a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is a secure encryption protocol used for communication between a web browser and a server. In terms of websites, they help protect the data that passes between visitors’ web browsers and website servers. When an SSL connection is established, all data between the two points undergo encryption.

Although SSL may seem very abstract to most users. However, it is not that difficult to understand.

When a visitor’s web browser first attempts to connect to a website hosting server, it must ensure that the browser has got in touch with the correct web server. This first step lays the foundation for connection.

The SSL certificate acts as a guarantee of authenticity, by displaying the server’s credentials to the web browser to confirm that it is the correct destination. This certificate displays as digitally signed and cannot be forged.

To establish the highest level of trust, SSL certificates are typically signed by a handful of organizations (known as certificate authorities or CAs) that web browsers know and trust. In short, they are the medium that allows web browsers to believe the destination they are headed to is undoubtedly correct.

Why You Need an SSL Certificate

Getting Started with SSL Certificate
Modern web browsers indicate SSL status clearly.

Without an SSL certificate, the Internet can be a much more dangerous place. Fake or malicious websites may try to impersonate legitimate ones, in an attempt to steal information from real site visitors.

For example, imagine a hacker setting up a fake website impersonating your bank or other financial data. If you get there by mistake, you will be asked to enter your bank login credentials and billing information which can be misused later.

That’s the reason most widely used web browsers display the security status of the websites users are visiting. It acts as a quick first line of defense to protect its users.

At the same time, search engines give very low priority to websites without an SSL certificate. Which affects their search engine ranking. For this reason, all website owners should give attention to their SSL certification status, not just sites that handle sensitive user data.

Installing an SSL Certificate on Your Site

Owning an SSL certificate isn’t enough – you need to ensure it’s properly installed on your website to make it work. In most cases, this can be easily done through your web hosting control panel. The main difference is the type of SSL certificate you want to install.

Installing SSL Certificate via Softxaa HostPanel
Installing SSL Certificate via Softxaa HostPanel

Softxaa makes SSL certificate installation easy with our state-of-the-art web hosting control panel “Softxaa HostPanel“. The Graphic User Interface (GUI) is simple and easy to navigate. To install your SSL certificate, click on the ‘SSL Certificate’ option from the main menu.

This will open a sub-menu, which allows you to manage the SSL certificate associated with your website.

Install ssl certificate
Install SSL certificate

Clicking on the ‘Action’ dropdown menu will give you two choices – Install Custom SSL or Free SSL. Click the appropriate option depending on the type of SSL certificate you have.

Custom SSL

This option is for premium SSL certificates. Choose this option if you purchased a premium SSL certificate or migrated one from another host. After clicking install you should have the certificate information to fill in on the next page.

When you purchase an SSL certificate, you receive a file from the SSL certificate provider, usually in the format: your_domain.crt. This file can be opened using a text editor to view the information inside.

You will need to fill in that data in the respective fields on the Custom SSL installation screen. Once you have done that, just click the Install button to complete the process.

Free SSL

If you do not want to purchase a premium SSL certificate, Softxaa offers free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates. These can be used effectively with all types of websites, but we always recommend using the premium ones for commercial purposes, such as online stores.

To install a free SSL certificate, you just need to click on the Install button, which will automatically start the installation process once you confirm that you want to do it. Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates also come with an expiration date, but it is automatically renewed for you before it expires.

Once you’ve installed your free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, you should be able to access your website via HTTPS instead of HTTP. This is another indication that your website is secure.

How Do SSL Certificates Work

Although SSL certificates are stands for Secure Sockets Layer protocol. However, they use TLS. TLS stands for Transport Layer Security and is an upgraded version of the SSL protocol that uses a combination of symmetric and asymmetric cryptography to ensure your browser communicates with the right server and secures all information you exchange with it.

After you type a domain name into your web browser’s address bar, your browser connects to the web server where the website file is hosted. The SSL certificate installed on the server responds with a unique authentication code, which ensures that browsers are communicating with the right web server.

The next step is the TLS handshake. During this, the server and browser use asymmetric encryption to establish connections and set up secure sessions. Asymmetric encryption means that a public key is available to anyone and a private one is kept secret. Information encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted using the private key, and vice versa. This means that the information exchanged between the server and the browser is not visible to anyone else.

During the TLS handshake process, the web server and the web browser start to negotiate the encryption algorithm for establishing a secure session and transfer data that helps them create a symmetric encryption key that will be used to protect the flow of information.

Thanks to the TLS handshake, you can be sure that your browser is communicating with the correct server. Meanwhile, the symmetric encryption used after it means the data is protected by a mechanism that is both fast and reliable.

Understanding SSL Certificate Types

Although most users generally know SSL certificates as ‘free’ or ‘commercial’. However, there are clear differences between different types of SSL certificates. This is mostly related to the extent to which the CA goes to verify the identity of the visitor to their site.

The main types of SSL certificates are:

Domain Validated (DV):

These are usually the cheapest SSL certificates. The issuer will only verify that the applicant for the certificate owns the domain name and has the right to operate it. There are no checks other than this one.

DV SSL certificates are most commonly used for personal sites such as blogs, portfolios, and other similar non-commercial sites. Let’s Encrypt, a company that provides free SSL certificates also offers DV SSL.

Organization Validated (OV):

For those who want extra safeguards for their website visitors, a good option would be an OV SSL certificate. Issuers who sell OV certificates require assurance of not only ownership of the domain name but also certain information about the company.

Extended Validation (EV):

Among all of the SSL certificates, EV is the most expensive and difficult one to obtain. Although the process is not overly complicated, extensive documentation must be submitted to issuers to create a strong guarantee of authenticity.

Information that needs to be verified includes:

  • Existence of the business, legally, operationally, and physically.
  • Record matching from official sources.
  • Exclusive rights for domain ownership from the business.
  • Proper authorization for the EV issuance

Because of this rigorous process, EV SSL can be relatively expensive and time-consuming to get. However, it is the most secure SSL option in case of a hacker breach.

Securing Multiple Sites and Subdomains

If you own several websites, you may need to look for another specific type of SSL certificate Usually, other certificates cover the exact domain name and nothing else.

But what about your subdomain or other websites?

To manage this, you need to look for a multi-domain SSL or wildcard SSL.

Multi-domain SSL:

Multi-domain SSL certificate is specifically for web applications or even websites that connect with multiple domains. They are always commercial and significantly more expensive than single-domain SSL.

Wildcard SSL:

If you want to segment your site using subdomains, a wildcard SSL is your best choice. Examples of subdomains include,, and

Where to Get Your SSL Certificate

SSL certificates are available from various providers. Softxaa offers free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates that are suitable for general non-commercial use only. If you need something even more secure, we offer premium SSL certificates from two highly trusted SSL providers – GeoTrust and Symantec.

Under each of these two companies, you can choose from a range of options that cover all your needs. These include EV, OV, and even wildcard certificates.

Prices start as low as $30/year and go up depending on which option you choose.

If You Need Assistance:

For those who aren’t sure what type of SSL they need, or need help with the installation process, Softxaa Technical Support will be happy to talk you through it. You can contact the technical support team via live chat or through the ticket system in the Softxaa client area.

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