Wednesday, 12 April 2023 13:03

How to Obtain a Valid SSL Certificate: A Quick Step-by-Step Guide

By  Emma Hughes

It’s 2023—so you’ve probably realized by now that the famous saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply to websites. In fact, according to statistics, it takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or not.

With that in mind, securing your website is one of the best ways to make it look credible. Nothing does that job better than an SSL certificate. SSL certificates are small snippets of data associated with a site, indicating that the site has implemented the SSL security feature. Short for Secure Socket Layer, SSL is the common name for TLS (Transport Layer Security), a cryptographic protocol used to secure and protect information over the internet.

In this post, we’ll show how you can obtain the all-too-important SSL certificate, a valid one, step by step.

Step 1: Have the Right Website Information

Before you go any further, understand that SSL certificates are issued by an entity known as a Certificate Authority (CA). Arm yourself with the correct information the CA requires in advance, and you can be sure you’ll quickly acquire an SSL certificate.

You only need two pieces of information: an accurate WHOIS record and business/organization validation. The latter only applies if you’re requesting a high-assurance certificate.

Step 2: Ascertain the Type of SSL Certificate You Need

There are three recognized categories of SSL certificates:

  • Domain Validation (DV): This is the quickest and easiest way to receive industry-standard encryption. You can get it within minutes.
  • Organization Validation (OV): A step up from DV, these can only be issued to a registered organization, not individuals, making them more suitable for public-facing websites.
  • Extended Validation (EV): These provide the highest level of trust and are the industry standard for business websites.

Within these certificate types, unique variations are available, including Multi-Domain (MD) and Wildcard SSL certificates.

When determining which SSL certificate you need for your business, it’s best first to choose the primary SSL type that fulfills your requirements. You can then opt for a specific package to meet your unique needs.

Step 3: Choose a Certificate Authority (CA)

A SSL Certificate Authority is a trusted entity that issues SSL certificates. Research and choose a reputable CA that provides the kind of certificate you’re looking for and closely aligns with your business goals and budget. For example, Sectigo offers enterprises a comprehensive certificate manager solution, and its reputation is intact.

Step 4: Produce a Certificate Signing Request

Next, you’ll need to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). The CSR contains your domain name and other relevant information. You can generate a CSR using your web server software or control panel. Please provide accurate information during this step, as it will be used to validate your certificate.

Step 5: Submit the CSR to the SSL Certificate Authority

It’s time to submit your CSR to the CA you picked for verification and issuance of the SSL certificate. This process may vary depending on the CA's requirements. Typically, you'll need to access their website, provide the CSR, and follow their instructions for verification.

Step 6: Complete the Validation Process

Certificate Authorities have specific validation processes to ensure the authenticity of the certificate requester. The validation process may involve confirming your domain ownership, verifying your organization's details (for an Extended Validation certificate), or other verification methods. Follow the CA's instructions and immediately provide necessary documentation to avoid unnecessary delays.

Overall, this process may take between a few hours and a few days, depending on the type of SSL certificate you purchase.

Step 7: Download and Install the SSL Certificate

This, right here, is the “rubber meets the road” of the whole process. So be careful not to fumble.

After your details have been validated, the CA will issue your SSL certificate. Once it’s been issued, you can download the certificate files from the user account you created when buying it. Alternatively, the CA will send the certificate to you via email or provide a download link.

As for the actual installation of the certificate, all you need to do is follow the instructions provided by your web host. Depending on the OS of the web server on which your site is hosted, this process may not always be straightforward. If you need clarification on how best to do it, reach out to your web host at your convenience.

Step 8: Give Your Certificate a Test Run

Now that you’ve done all the hard work, it’s time to relax and unwind, right?

No, not yet.

Test out your new (and valid) SSL certificate to ensure it works as it should. This can be accomplished through SSL verification tools. You’ll receive crucial information, such as whether all the pages on your site are loading securely.

A Valid SSL Certificate is Well within Your Reach

Forget all the false information being peddled out there—obtaining a valid SSL certificate has never been easier. Follow the advice in this article, pay attention to the littlest of details, and you’ll be well on your way to protecting your website’s traffic and, ultimately, your bottom line.

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