One of the many steps involved in creating and promoting a website is acquiring an SSL certificate.
SSL is the backbone of the secure internet and is needed to safeguard sensitive information that’s transmitted via the Internet. It keeps away cyber criminals who prowl after such information with the intention of using it illegally. SSL certificates will encrypt personal and sensitive data and protect the privacy of customers.
There are many SSL certificates to choose from, but how do you know what type is best for you? It can be a perplexing question that needs careful consideration based on your needs, certificate assurance, warranty and cost.
The levels of encryption, cost and the insurance vary between vendors, but popularity and reliability are also important factors to consider. VeriSign (now Symantec) is the largest and clearly the most popular amongst consumers and due to this, people tend to trust it more than others. Some big and trusted websites such as PayPal, Tigerdirect and Best Buy, all use Symantec – which definitely scores points when customers are looking to choose between vendors. VeriSign also comes with a free daily malware scan that alerts users to any suspicious software found on the website.
While encryption and ownership of GeoTrust and RapidSSL are essentially the same, there are some noticeable differences in the roots, with the former using “GeoTrust” and the latter using “Equifax” root. There is also a difference in the verification process that takes place during their purchase. Both of them issue certificates that are not licensed per server, which means one certificate can be used for an entire web-farm.
The SSL certificate vendors provide insurance against the misuse of certificates and this differs from one vendor to another. Symantec provides warranties of up to $250,000 while GeoTrust and RapidSSL offer a $10,000 warranty. The higher the insurance, the more inscription/authentication is provided by the SSL vendors. There are no free trials and contracts are purchased for a minimum of one year. Although Symantec does cost the most, it provides a 30 day free trial which the other SSL vendors do not offer.
Another point to consider is that Symantec also provide an extended validation SSL certificate which, in supported web browsers, turns the browser bar green when enabled. This gives instant reassurance to visitors that the website is trusted and secure.
In short, while the SSL certificates provided by many vendors may be quite similar to each other, they do also have some definite differences – whether significant or insignificant. Some of the fundamental ones have been listed in the following table:
PRODUCT NAME PRICE PER YEAR MULTI-YEAR OPTIONS SPEED OF INSURANCE REFUND POLICY
VeriSign $390 onwards 1 to 5 years Up to 2-5 days 30 days
GeoTrust $140 onwards 1 to 5 years Immediate 7 days
RapidSSL $45 onwards 1 to 5 years Immediate 7 days
Thawte $140 onwards 1 to 5 years Up to 2-5 days 30 days
The differences between Symantec, GeoTrust, and RapidSSL
An SSL certificate can be obtained from amounts as low as $45 to as high as $3000 per year. Whilst the type of encryption can be the same, the cost is determined by the rigour of the certification process as well as the assurance and warranty that the vendor can provide. Symantec is the most popular SSL provider and is used by most large websites. Despite paying a few thousand more, it can be a safe bet in protecting the personal and financial information of your customers