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You want people to trust your site and this requires a valid Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.
SSL certificates are issued by a certification authority and build trust in two important ways:
- The CA. authenticated the identity of the organization that wants to receive the certificate. This way, the users know that they are actually sending their information to PayPal, for example, and not someone who set up a fake PayPal site.
- The SSL certificate encrypted the data that is transferred between your website and visitors. This way, potential attackers cannot steal the information shared on your website, such as username, password or credit card number.
Nowadays, all popular browsers like Google Chrome warn users when they try to visit a website without an SSL certificate. It says something like "This website is not secure" or "Any information you share could be vulnerable to attackers."
It's not good for business, to say the least.
Potential visitors will go to another website where they will be comfortable entering their credit number. I know I would.
There are many different Certificate Authorities to choose from, selling a range of SSL Certificates that businesses can use to identify their online identity and protect their customers' privacy.
For some people, using a free SSL certificate is perfectly safe. All you have to do is quickly prove that you control a particular domain. These are known as DV SSL (Domain Validated) certificates.
For companies that need to establish a higher level of trust, SSL Certificates with OV (Organization Validated) or EV (Extended Validation) include real background checks of the organization making the request.
The strong authentication process isn't free, but it does impart a much higher level of trust.
Paid SSL certificate providers also make it easy to get and renew certificates through an intuitive online platform.
How do you choose the best SSL certificate provider?
It can seem difficult at first, as everyone is selling the same essential service. There are important differences, however, and you want to find out about them before you decide.
In this post, I've reviewed the top SSL certificate providers. These are big names with a long history of protecting websites. The reviews are followed by a brief guide to help you understand your options and ask the right questions.
# 1 – SSL.com – The best in budget-friendly SSL Certificates
SSL.com is perfect for small and growing businesses that need to secure their websites but cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars a year.
They are a nice mid-range product that is suitable for companies that are no longer able to use completely free SSL certificates, but don't have the particularly complex security requirements that justify the premium prices offered by DigiCert or GlobalSign.
The best part about the budget prices is that the level of encryption is the same that you get with much more expensive SSL certificates.
You might think the downside would be poorer customer service, but nothing could be further from the truth.
SSL.com offers 24/7 chat, email, and phone support. Review after review, satisfied customers have thanked their SSL.com customer service representative for walking them through the installation of their first SSL certificate or helping them solve a complex problem.
I think SSL.com struck a good balance between price and customer service. It's by no means dirt cheap, but it is certainly cheaper than some of the premium SSL certificate providers like Digicert and GlobalSign.
In addition to affordable pricing, SSL.com offers a range of certificates that are flexible enough to meet the needs of many different businesses:
- Basic SSL: from USD 36.75 / year (domain validation)
- Premium SSL: from USD 74.25 / year (with three subdomains)
- Highly secure SSL: from $ 48.40 / year (organization validation)
- Enterprise EV SSL: from $ 239.50 / year
- Wildcard SSL certificate: from $ 224.25 / year
- Multi-domain UCC / SAN: from $ 141.60 / year
- Enterprise EV UCC / SAN SSL: $ 319.20 / year
As with other SSL Certificate providers, you need to get a longer contract to get the lowest price. At SSL.com, however, the price is still lower than the competition for a year.
As you can see above, SSL.com offers very low prices on Wildcard and Subject Alternative Name (SAN) certificates. This can save a lot of money and streamline certificate management.
Wildcard certificates cover an unlimited number of subdomains. Instead of buying, installing, and renewing a separate certificate for neilpatel.com, info.neilpatel.com, etc., all I need is a placeholder.
SAN certificates protect multiple domains. The exact number depends on the SSL certificate provider. More domains with fewer certificates make your life a lot easier.
For comparison, GlobalSign's EV SSL Certificate starts at $ 599 and adding domains and subdomains from there is an additional cost.
With SSL.com, on the other hand, you can secure up to 500 additional domains with Enterprise EV UCC / SAN SSL for much less money. With GlobalSign you are limited to 100 additional subdomains per SAN certificate.
When compared to Digicert, the difference is more pronounced, as a multi-domain EV is almost $ 3,000 per year.
If you think SSL.com is dying for the right price, give it a try. The 30-day unconditional refund is not a marketing ploy. If you are not satisfied, your account will be credited immediately. Get started now.
# 2 – GlobalSign – The Best Managed SSL for Business
GlobalSign is the SSL certificate provider of choice for large companies with complex requirements. They have some of the highest rates in the business, but also some of the happiest customers for the quality of their service.
If all you need is a couple of SSL certificates I would choose something cheaper. However, if you need many certificates and managing so many certificates is causing problems, GlobalSign is a good choice.
The industry's best certificate monitoring and inventory tool combined with huge discounts for volume licensing reduces the total cost of ownership for full SSL security.
Reduce the frequency of costly certificate expiration issues, no matter how many you have to manage. You can even set policy settings and receive reminders if certificates are not compliant, regardless of who issued the certificate.
You no longer have to manually track down certificates. Everything is available with a quick scan.
Think about it. If your employees save a few extra hours every month thanks to GlobalSign's intuitive platform and concierge support, the service has already paid for itself.
I can only recommend GlobalSign to companies that cannot play the normal waiting game to receive new certificates. After GlobalSign has authenticated your company, they can virtually issue certificates on demand as they have pre-checked all domains.
The initial authentication process is pretty quick (between three and four business days for EV). Some people have reported that due to emergency situations, they can get certificates faster simply by going to GlobalSign.
GlobalSign offers the full range of traditional SSL certificates:
- DV SSL certificate: from $ 249 / year
- OV SSL certificate: from $ 349 / year
- EV SSL certificate: from 599 USD / year
- DV Wildcard SSL Certificate: from $ 849 / year
- OV Wildcard SSL Certificate: from $ 949 / year
GlobalSign offers SAN SSL Certificates for multiple domains at a price of $ 199 / year on top of the price of the base certificate. So an OV SAN SSL from GlobalSign costs $ 549 per year. A single SAN certificate covers up to 100 additional domains.
You can also add subdomains for an additional fee, although a wildcard SSL certificate is more cost effective if you need a lot of coverage.
The GlobalSign EV is guaranteed for a maximum of $ 1.5 million. If your digital certificates don't provide the protection promised, GlobalSign will pay for the damage.
This is half a million less than a comparable DigiCert certificate. Ideally, you never have to worry about the difference, but you should be aware of it.
Another nice thing for corporate customers is that GlobalSign supports document signing, code signing, digital signatures, and secure email. Centralizing all of these SSL security concerns on a single platform can make administration a lot easier.
GlobalSign also offers intranet SSL for securing internal servers and applications. This means that companies no longer have to operate their own certification authority or use self-signed certificates.
For companies offering cloud-based services, GlobalSign's CloudSSL can help meet the complex security needs of these next-generation environments.
Not every company will take advantage of GlobalSign's premium suite of managed SSL certificates and services. For simple websites, it's overkill.
For businesses, especially those with complex SSL security needs, using GlobalSign is worth every penny.
Request a GlobalSign Managed SSL demo today and see the difference it makes.
# 3 – DigiCert – The best for premium SSL certificates
The Digicert Group owns a handful of the most trusted certification authorities (GeoTrust, RapidSSL, Thawte and Verisign) and has become one of the largest providers of SSL certificates worldwide.
This is certainly one of the more expensive options, but Digicert offers security features with its premium SSL Certificates that can make a big difference for the right companies.
This includes automatic malware detection on all of your websites, payment card industry (PCI) compliance scans, and blocklist checks to ensure your website is not suspected on any state or country-specific blocklist.
What is important is that most of these features are only included in Digicert's high-level plans. The provider divides its offerings into three levels: Basic, Secure Site and Secure Site Pro.
You can buy different types of certificates for each tier, but I don't recommend going for Basic. It costs a lot more than comparable protection from other SSL Certificate providers, and you're missing out on the added security features that make Digicert's premium pricing a great buy.
If you need the basic domain validation that comes with Digicert Basic, I would go with SSL.com. However, if you run an e-commerce website where users enter financial information, Digicert offers a high level of protection that is very responsive.
At the secure site level (which comes with the organization's validation) pricing is broken down as follows:
- Secure Site SSL: from 399 USD / year
- Secure Site EV SSL: from 995 USD / year
- Secure Site Multi-Domain SSL: from $ 1,296 / year
- Secure Site Multi-Domain EV SSL: from $ 2,785 / year
- Secure Site Wildcard SSL: from $ 1,999 / year
All Secure Site Certificates come with a Netsure $ 1.75M Protection Guarantee for your organization and an Overall Relying Party Guarantee of $ 2M for your customers.
This is one of the most comprehensive guarantees out there, and this isn't even the Premium DigiCert plan.
You also get priority support, which means Digicert agents will respond to your concerns faster than if you opted for the basic tier. Another good reason to avoid this.
Of course, people still run into problems, but Digicert priority customers constantly praise the company for their responsiveness and expert advice.
The company guides its customers through the installation process for free. They expect questions from you and are ready to help.
All of this and more is included in the SecureSitePro level:
- Secure Site Pro SSL: from 995 USD / year
- Secure Site Pro EV SSL: from $ 1,499 / year
These plans are backed by a slightly better guarantee that covers your business up to $ 2 million. There is also a certificate transparency log monitor that notifies organizations when an unauthorized certificate is assigned to one of their domains.
In addition to priority support, Secure Site Pro also includes priority checking, which reduces the time it takes to issue new certificates.
Not every company needs extra security, but those who do will appreciate all of what Digicert offers with its Site Secure Pro Certificates:
All Digicert certificates are managed through CertCentral, which is remarkably easy to use. CertCentral is designed to work on a large scale. So it doesn't matter how many certificates you have – it will be easy to manage.
Digicert secures all SSL certificates with a 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked, no problems.
What I looked at to find the best SSL certificate provider
You want people to know without a doubt that your website is safe and trustworthy.
The exact selection of SSL certificates and features will depend on the type and number of websites your company operates.
Price is an important factor – especially when you look at long-term costs – but it can't be the only thing that you focus on. In the truest sense of the word, you get what you pay for.
Some companies are fully covered by the cheap SSL certificates. Others will be very grateful that they have chosen a premium product that really offers the security they need.
When evaluating your options, consider the following X criteria to determine which SSL certificate provider is best for your particular situation.
Types of SSL Certificates
You want to get the right type of SSL Certificate for your site. Understanding the basic differences between them can help you avoid buying more than you need or not getting enough.
There are three types of SSL Certificates that you will come across. They vary depending on the validation level:
- Domain validated (DV): DV certificates show that the certification authority has confirmed that you are the owner of a particular domain. These are usually free, but since you don't have to prove anything beyond the control of a domain, they have the lowest level of trust.
- Organization validated (OV): OV certificates indicate that the CA has verified that your organization is real, has a known physical location, and controls the domain. These are not free and can take several days as they require real identity verification. OV certificates therefore have a higher level of trust than DVs.
- Extended validation (EV): EV certificates have the most extensive validation process. In addition to reviewing everything that is required for an OV, an EV also reviews corporate documents.
In general, different types of SSL certificates from the same provider have the same level of encryption. It's the authentication process that adds that extra level of trust.
The encryption supplied with DV certificates is the key. However, when encryption is tied to the strict identity verification of OV or EV certificates, it becomes much more difficult for bad actors to conduct phishing or man-in-the-middle attacks.
In some industries such as finance and healthcare, you may need to purchase an EV SSL Certificate. This is just a bullet to bite. This is true even if you have a high profile website that could be a juicy target for attackers.
Some opt for OV or EV certificates for branding purposes. This was more important when browsers like Chrome showed a green padlock next to the website's URL.
Google has started phasing that out, and now everyone gets the same gray padlock regardless of the type of validation. Even PayPal no longer has a green lock in Chrome:
For more information about the organization, please see the certificate details when you receive an OV or EV. But who checks it?
If you can avoid paying for OV or EV I recommend this. Just make sure it works for your industry and for any payment gateway software you use.
When choosing between different vendors, be sure to do an apples to apples comparison.
For example, Secure Site SSL from Digicert is an OV certification that is not specified by name, while a Single Domain OV certificate from Sectigo makes this clearer.
There are two important sub-types of SSL certificates for single domain certificates:
- Wildcard SSL certificates cover an unlimited number of subdomains.
- SAN Subject Alternative Name (SSL) certificates cover a certain number of additional domains. These can also be referred to as "Multi-Domain" or UCC (Unified Communications Certificate).
The exact restrictions vary from provider to provider. With GlobalSign, for example, you can purchase the desired SSL certificate type (DV, OV or EV) and then pay an additional $ 199 per year for each additional domain and $ 99 per year for each subdomain.
Alternatively, GlobalSign offers a wildcard SSL that secures an unlimited number of subdomains for $ 849 per year.
If you need to secure multiple domains or many subdomains on a tight budget, I recommend SSL.com. They have wildcards starting at $ 225 and SAN certificates that can secure up to 500 domains for $ 142 a year.
One final note: multiple certificate providers can be used. Many companies use free Let's Encrypt SSL Certificates for everything they can and paid SSL Certificates to cover everything else.
How quickly can you get the SSL certificates you need?
While DV SSL Certificates can be issued more or less instantly, OV and EV SSL Certificates can take several days and possibly longer.
If you urgently need one of these higher validation certificates, be sure to contact an SSL certificate provider that promises in the 1 to 3 day range, like DigiCert. Of course, you should check out the ratings to see if they are going the way when it comes to getting certificates shipped quickly.
SSL.com has some of the fastest turnaround times based on ratings. Hence, they can be a good choice if you need an SSL certificate yesterday.
For companies developing software, Digicert and GlobalSign solve the problem of issuing certificates at the speed of DevOps.
You set up a corporate account that you can use to pre-validate domains. Digicert and Globalsign make this easy to manage, so you can pre-validate as many domains as you think necessary, and certificates can then be issued when needed.
One of the main advantages of a paid SSL certificate over a free certificate is that you are covered by a warranty. It's like an insurance policy. If an incorrectly issued SSL certificate is causing problems, you don't need to get it right.
These guarantees vary depending on the type of certificate you choose. DV SSL Certificates are backed by warranties of around $ 10,000, while EV SSL Certificates can cover more than $ 1 million.
DigiCert has one of the most comprehensive guarantees. The EV SSL Certificate has a $ 2 million guarantee for your organization and a separate $ 2 million guarantee for your customers.
Hopefully you never need this, but if you do it is important to know which companies are backing you with an appropriate guarantee.
Whether you purchase a single SSL Certificate or thousands per week, the quality of the customer service is very important.
Installing and renewing SSL certificates can take many steps. It's a little different for each host and server type. Sometimes the "easy install" process becomes more difficult due to your specific hardware.
There is a lot of value in being able to pick up the phone and speak to an expert to guide you through the process. SSL.com has a great reputation. Hundreds of reviewers describe the reassuring customer service the first time you install an SSL certificate. The agents stay on the line from start to finish, making sure everything is done right.
Let's Encrypt is a great option for free SSL certificates. However, are you saving money when it takes your paid employees several hours a month to cope with an unknown system?
Because of this, companies like GlobalSign and Digicert can charge a lot more for SSL certificates than others. You pay for on-demand concierge customer service so you don't have to hire experts yourself.
If you can't use the best free SSL Certificates to protect your websites, finding the right paid option is important.
Much depends on whether you can find an SSL certificate provider who can offer the certificates you need at a reasonable price.
For businesses looking for affordable SSL Certificates, SSL.com is your first and only stop. In addition to their excellent prices, they have an excellent reputation for helping their customers. If you need a wildcard or SAN certificate, SSL.com can save you thousands of dollars every year.
If you only need OV or EV certificates and want a serious guarantee to back them up, Digicert is a great choice. There is definitely a higher price tag, but the platform has plenty of additional tools to help keep SSL security at the highest level on all of your websites.
GlobalSign is my recommendation for corporate customers looking for a vendor to help them manage their complex SSL needs. There is no more user-friendly certificate management system and you can rest assured that customer service agents will be available when needed.
There are many, many more options for SSL certificates. These are my top three. They have stood the test of time, helping thousands of companies keep their sites secure, and continuously developing their technology to stay on top.
- SSL.com: The best for budget-friendly SSL Certificates
- GlobalSign: The Best Managed SSL for Business
- DigiCert: The best for premium SSL certificates
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