SSL Certificates: Ensuring Secure Public Web Connections

It practically goes without saying that digital security is paramount. Whether you’re browsing a website, sending sensitive information, or conducting online transactions, you want to ensure that your data remains confidential and protected. This is where SSL certificates come into play.

What Are SSL Certificates?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are cryptographic protocols that establish an encrypted connection between a user’s web browser and a web server. They play a crucial role in securing data transmission over the internet. Here’s how they work:

  1. Authentication: When you visit a website with an SSL certificate, your browser verifies the authenticity of the server. It ensures that you’re connecting to the intended domain and not an imposter.
  2. Encryption: SSL certificates encrypt the data exchanged between your browser and the server. This prevents eavesdroppers from intercepting sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card numbers, or personal details.
  3. Trust: Browsers display visual cues (like a padlock icon) to indicate a secure connection. Users trust websites with valid SSL certificates, knowing their data is safe. If you visit a website using https as the first part of the URL, it is using an SSL certificate. If it is simply http, you are not using an SSL certificate. All browsers have root certificates that they trust. The certificate installed on a web server is a child in a chain of certificates. If the chain is intact and the date is within the validity period, then the device browsing the web site trusts the certificate.

Types of SSL Certificates

Let’s explore some common types:

  1. Domain Validated (DV) Certificates: These are basic SSL certificates that validate domain ownership. They’re suitable for personal blogs, small businesses, and informational websites.
  2. Organization Validated (OV) Certificates: OV certificates verify both domain ownership and the organization behind it. They provide a higher level of trust and are often used by businesses and e-commerce sites.
  3. Extended Validation (EV) Certificates: EV certificates undergo rigorous validation, including legal checks. They turn the address bar green and are commonly used by financial institutions and large corporations.

SSL Certificate Lifecycle

Let’s outline the lifecycle of an SSL certificate:

  1. Purchase and Installation: Organizations buy SSL certificates from trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs). Once obtained, they install them on their web servers.
  2. Renewal: SSL certificates have an expiration date (usually one year). Regular renewal ensures uninterrupted security. I recommend setting up reminders or working with a company that will automate this process of alerting you of an expiring certificate and working to renew and install it for you.
  3. Monitoring and Troubleshooting: I suggest checking certificate health which includes verifying the certificate chain, and handling renewal failures.

Best Practices for SSL Certificates

Here are some best practices:

  1. Choose the Right Certificate: Consider your website’s needs. DV certificates suffice for blogs, while e-commerce sites benefit from EV certificates.
  2. Keep Certificates Updated: Regularly renew and replace expiring certificates. I would encourage some type of automation to avoid lapses.
  3. Monitor Vulnerabilities: Stay informed about SSL vulnerabilities (like Heartbleed or POODLE). I would recommend sites like and for vulnerability scanning.


SSL certificates are the unsung heroes of secure web communication. Browsers today by default will say the website is not secure if not browsing over an https connection with a valid SSL certificate. When things are working and configured correctly you don’t even think of them.

Have any questions about valid SSL web certificates? Feel free to reach out to our experts at any time!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

About the Author