Let’s outline a common occurrence: you’ve finally decided to get an SSL, but when you go to research the different types, your head starts spinning. What the heck is the difference between positive SSL and Wildcard SSL? Is there a difference? And which one should you get for your site? Wonder no more – this blog will focus on the basic SSL types and which is right for you. Fortunately, it really isn’t as complicated as it may first seem.

Exploring the different SSL types

Before we begin, it’s important to know that the type of SSL certificates you choose is based on two main factors: the number of domains and subdomains you have and the level of validation you need. Read on to explore further.

SSL based on number of domains

The first factor to consider is the number of domains or subdomains you have. The three main categories based on the number of domains are:

Single domain certificates: This SSL type is for one website.

Multi-domain certificates: This SSL secures two or more sites.

Wildcard certificates: This type of SSL secures one primary domain and multiple subdomains of one level linked to it.

Validation levels

Validation level is how extensively an issuing Certificate Authority (CA) will verify your site and you and your business before giving you your SSL. The higher the validation level, the more checks the CA will perform.

Domain validation (DV): The CA checks that you have administrative access to your site.

Organization validation (OV): More checks are made into you and your company.

Extended validation (EV): More extensive verification, including cross-referencing government records and verifying your business premises.

So how do you know what level of validation you need? A good rule of thumb is the more information you ask from your user, the higher the level of validation. If you have a simple portfolio site without commenting functionality or an e-commerce section, then DV should be ideal.

Bringing it all together

How do you use this information when choosing an SSL? Well, when you look through the SSL certificates available, each will display the number of domains and subdomains it protects, as well as the validation level. Bringing it back to PositiveSSL that we mentioned in the beginning, that has a DV validation and you can get it in single-domain, multi-domain, and Wildcard forms. Because of the low level of validation, it tends to be one of the more affordable SSL options.

The takeaway

Hopefully, you know understand SSL types and categories a little better now. In the end, the most important thing is that you secure your site as soon as possible.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.