What is SSL?
SSL certificates are generally used with ecommerce shopping carts; or anywhere you want to collect information from a user securely. If you use a secure server certificate with a form; and that form emails the results to you; keep in mind that the email is not secure.
SSL- Secure Sockets Layer - Creates an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
CA - Certificate Authority - The vendor you will get the secure server certificate from
CSR - Certificate signing request - A text file generated by a webserver. It looks like this:
-----BEGIN NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST----- MIIDGgBNAGkAYwByAG8AcwBvAGYAdAAgAFIAUwBBACAAUwB AG4AZQBsACAAQwByAHkAcAB0AG8AZwByAGEAcABoAGkAYwl L0ygNwwNIvKLMPq4/LcUkZ9Oo4AssXW5mvvhHWGz2RWYRhrw8o
-----END NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----
First, you want to decide whether to use your hosting shared SSL certificates if they offer it - (Your URL to your store will
look something like: https://theirserver.com/youruserid/your/path/to/store.html)
Or do you get your own SSL certificate? (Your URL will look like https://yourdomainname.com)
Should you decide to use your hosts' shared secure server certificate, then all you need to do is find out the path you need to use to call your files securely, and you will be on your way.
If you decide to get your own SSL certificate, this is generally what happens.
You first need to decide who you are going to get your SSL certificate from. It is a good idea to make sure your host supports your particular vendor. Some certificate authority vendors are:
You can also review several vendors at a glance at WhichSSL
Before getting your own SSL certificate, you will need to do some reading on what your CA requires for a secure certificate, and you'll also need to come up with some documentation. There are several steps to buying a secure server certificate, once you have decided on a vendor.
This is an overview, not written in stone. Each CA is different, so make sure you read their documention and what they require. Here is an idea of what they want:
All documentation that is requested must match *exactly*.
Secure certificate authorities will verify that your organization actually exists, so they know they are issuing to
the correct company. You will need to prove that the Organization Name, and the Domain name are in fact yours to use.
Steps you'll be taking:
-Gather required documentation
-Have your host generate a CSR
-Complete certificate authority online application
-Certificate authority will process your request
-Pickup and Install your SSL certificate (usually an URL is emailed to you to download the secure server certificate)
-Depending on the vendor, it can take a few hours to a few days.
-Send secure certificate to host for installation. (Send in plain text)
Your web host will generate the CSR for you. This is generally the information that is needed, check with your web hosting provider first:
-Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:
-State or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:
-Locality Name (eg, city) :
-Organization Name (eg, company) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:
-Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) :
-Common Name (eg, domainname name) :
-Email Address :
Once your webhosting provider receives this info; they will generate the csr and send it back to you in plain text. You then send it on to Verisign or Thawte, or whoever you have chosen as your secure certificate authority. They will then generate a SSL certificate for you which you will send back for installation. Your webhost may charge a fee for installation in addition to what your SSL certificate vendor charges.
Something to think about:
If you've decided to spend the money to get your own SSL certificate, you will need to decide how you want your URL to be called. If you, as a rule, call your domain name in your coding as www.yourdomainname.com, then make sure you indicate this to your host when you request a CSR from them.
If you don't; and you get the certificate for yourdomainname.com (without the www), this will cause errors and you will need to change your coding.
Always use yourself or your company as technical contact.
How to tell if a site is secure?
After you've browsed to a site securely; using https:// in the url; look on the lower right hand side of your browser. You should see a closed lock. This will tell you the site is secure.