Also known as Secure Sockets Layer certificates, SSL certificates help secure the communication between a server and an online user. They reduce the chances of hackers accessing sensitive data such as credit card details. Browsers rely on SSL/TLS protocol to interact with secured web servers. To establish an encrypted and secure connection, both the server and browser need an SSL/TLS certificate.
Types of SSL Certificates
The three main types of SSL certificates include domain validated (DV), organization validated (OV) and extended validation (EV) certificates. You don’t need any identity verification to get a DV certificate. However, both OV and EV certificates stress on identity verification. The Certificate Authority (CA) has basic identity verification standards for the OV certificate while the CA has strict identity verification standards for the EV certificate.
What Makes a Free SSL Certificate Unsafe?
Choosing a free SSL cert for your site is a bad idea especially when the site is business-oriented. The free SSL cert puts your potential customers at risk of losing their credit card information. You also set the reputation of your business at a higher risk of getting ruined. Here are the possible dangers of using free Secure Sockets Layer certs.
1. They Degrade Your Customer’s Trust
Reputation is crucial when running an online business. You should have efficient mechanisms in place for attracting new customers and retaining the existing ones. Using a paid SSL certificate should be among these mechanisms since consumers dislike transacting with unauthentic online businesses. Having a free SSL cert on your site can make the potential customers feel less safe when browsing the site.
Free SSL certificates leave your site with a lower level of customer trust and a low conversion rate. This means that the site’s visitors are unlikely to buy or enlist for your products or services. Paid SSL certs help you keep up with your competitors who understand the importance of authentication on websites.
2. They May Lead to Data Loss
Hackers mostly target for sites that offer unsecured and unencrypted connections. A free SSL certificate can make it easier for hackers to find a loophole on your site. You risk having a website defaced or having customers’ data stolen if the site lacks an authentic SSL cert. Losing sensitive website and customer data to hacking can have adverse effects on your reputation and online brand.
3. They May Set Off Security Alarms on Users’ Browsers
When an e-commerce website uses a free SSL certificate, the site’s visitors may get a notification warning them to leave the site. With the best antivirus software 2018 for pc installed on their devices, the visitors’ browsers can deny access to unsecured sites. Such notifications can taint your site’s image and consumers’ perception. You’ll find it difficult to hit your target conversion rates if the visitors keep getting notified to stay away from your site.
4. Free SSL Certificates Make Websites Look Fraudulent
Asonline scammers are on the rise, most people pay attention to the authenticity of the sites they’re visiting. Potential visitors may confuse your website for a scam website if it lacks a valid SSL certificate.You risk losing the potential visitors or having your site’s image tarnished when you use a free SSL cert.
5. Short Validity Period
CAs usually issue free SSL certificates to website owners for 30 to 90 days. As a website owner, you should renew the license by purchasing a premium one once the validity period expires. Failing to upgrade the cert may lower your site’s rankings and conversion rates. With paid certificates, you get a validity period of 1 to 2 years depending on the CA.
6. Zero Access to Support Services or Warranties
CAs only offer round-the-clock support to holders of paid SSL certificates. The paying customers can get support via email, web chat or phone calls. You can’t get help from the CA if you’re having issues regarding a free SSL. You’ll have to browse old forum posts with hopes of finding the help you need.
In case of a catastrophic failure associated with a free SSL certificate, the CA won’t provide you any payout. In fact, most CAs usually warn website owners that the free SSL won’t guarantee them access to expert help or warranties. For paid SSL certificates you can get a payout of $10,000 to $1.75 million. You only get the payout when the CA rules out that the paid SSL cert led to your site’s downfall.
Why Pay for an SSL Certificate?
Website owners or administrators rely on SSL certificates to provide authentication and encryption to their websites. Most free SSL certs offer encryption for free. However, these certs fail to provide authentication and verify your business credentials. With a paid SSL certificate, your site’s visitors can see your company name and address on the left side of the address bar. Such information raises the visitor’s trust concerning your site.