SSL certificate is a file which contains a piece of code stored in the server, which contains the key to encrypt and decrypt the information sent or received through the web, email, or other SSL/TLS enabled communication channels.
SSL certificates keep the user’s data secure and are useful when it comes to confirming the identity of the website owner, to ensure the users are visiting the legitimate website.
It helps to prevent bad actors from creating fake versions of sites and secure online transactions and keep customers’ information private and secure.
An SSL certificate secures information such as:
For a normal user, the easiest way to check if a site has an SSL certificate is by looking at the address bar in the browser. In the address bar:
The browsers will show warning signs (red padlock, open padlock, warning sign, or a line going through the website’s address) when the connection is not secure.
The SSL certificates are obtained directly from a Certificate Authority (CA) — they issue millions of SSL certificates each year. They play a vital role in the transparency and operation of the internet. The cost may range from free to a few hundred dollars depending on the level of required security.
Obtaining SSL certificate can be broken into following steps:
Post obtaining the SSL certificate, you would be required to configure the certificate on your web host or on your servers if the website was hosted by the self. Also, the time for issuing the certificate by the authority depends on the level of required security, and it may range from a few minutes to a full week.
SSL protocol has always been a pioneer in terms of encryption and secured transmission of data. With each update, they changed the suffix version number and from SSLv4.0, it was renamed TLSv1.0. And currently we are at TLSv1.3.
Since SSL is widely known, we can see TLS/SSL when referring to certificates or to describe how the data is transmitted securely.
SSL certificates expire over a time of 27 months in general. It is for the purpose of periodical revalidation to ensure that the information which authenticates servers and organizations is as accurate and updated as possible.
In times of users visiting the website with expired SSL certificates, the browser checks the validity of the SSL certificate in a short span of time (milliseconds) in the SSL handshake. And it returns the message “This site is not secure. Potential risk ahead”.
The Certificate Authority (CA) will prompt you to renew periodically prior to the expiration and if it expires, the certificate becomes expired and gets invalid. Post the expiration, you will no longer be able to perform a secure transaction on your website.
It is so simple that all you have to do is just paste the website’s URL (indeed owned by you) in the SSL Certificate Checker. And click on the "CHECK SSL EXPIRY" button.
Seeing just the padlock sign in the address bar is no longer effective.
The padlock sign has gained the entitle to resemble the authenticity of a website. And unfortunately, most phishing sites have padlock signs and even DV certificates.
The best practice is to look beyond the padlock. If a website doesn’t place their identity in the certificate, it would be better not to share any of your information with them. And if they have given their organization’s name, it would be OK to share the most required information.