Navigating SSL Certificates: From Purchase to Management

Lucy Bennett
By Lucy Bennett  - Contributing Editor
Navigating SSL Certificates From Purchase to Management

You need SSL certificates, especially when your website captures sensitive or financial information from users. However, purchasing, installing, and maintaining an SSL certificate system can consume significant time and money for small or big enterprises. That’s why considering an SSL/TLS management platform might be a good idea.

The Purchase of SSL Certificates

Purchasing an SSL certificate is not as simple as selecting one, putting it in a cart, and completing the checkout process. Before buying the certificates, you must ensure the correct website information, like the IP address and an accurate WHOIS record, is available. Once this information is obtainable, you can proceed with the purchase of your SSL certificates. 

Navigating SSL Certificates From Purchase to Management

Choosing the Appropriate SSL Certificate For Your Website

Because the types of security certificates can vary in price, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right one for your website. You can expect to pay anywhere from $36.75 to $399.00 per year for a single-domain certificate. In contrast, organizational-validated certificates can cost $199 per year, and high-end, extended validation options can cost as much as $1,499 per year.

Domain validation certificates are the lowest cost but also the lowest level of validation. These certificates are best suited for websites presenting information but not receiving information from users. Organization validation certificates are at a medium level and ideal for websites with forms and lead-capturing features. The extended validation certificates are the most expensive and high-end level of validation. Still, if your website handles sensitive information like user financial transactions, this certificate is the one you purchase.

Single-domain certificates protect only one domain name and cannot be used for subdomains, while a multi-domain single certificate can offer protection for up to 100 domains. A wildcard certificate protects unlimited subdomains of a single domain.

Decide Which Certificate Authority Will Issue Your SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate authority (CA) issues certificates and validates websites to ensure security. You can choose a CA like Sectigo, one of the top ten trusted CAs in PC Magazine, who will administer and manage certificates if needed.

Next, you’ll have to generate a certificate signing request (CSR) file on your web server before you request an SSL certificate from a CA. The CA will validate and use the information from the file when issuing the certificate.

SSL Certificate Installation

The installation process of the security certificate you purchased will vary depending on your server type. The organization you bought your security certificate from may have installation instructions for the different types of servers. Typical servers can include:

  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
  • Cloudflare
  • Google App Engine
  • Apache Server

For example, if you are installing your SSL certificate on Microsoft Exchange Server 2016, you’ll have to make sure your certificate is in the appropriate format and installed on the same server where you created the CSR. Then, you’ll have to download your certificate, complete the certificate import steps, and assign the certificate to your preferred services.

How to Manage SSL Certificates

If you decide to manage your certification yourself, you’ll have to set up a schedule to monitor your certificates’ renewal and expiration dates regularly. You’ll need to know the specific expiration dates of your certificates to ensure there is no period when an SSL certificate is not providing protection.

However, this task may be time-consuming and costly. There are some CAs that also provide certificate management services. For example, the Sectigo Certificate Manager (SCM) manages certificates that they issue and digital certificates that other trusted public and private CAs provide.

Helping With SSL Certificate Needs From Purchase to Management

A lot can be involved when protecting your website with SSL/TLS certificates. That’s why a TLS management platform like Sectigo’s will help issue and manage the lifecycles of your SSL/TLS certificates to ensure that at no time your website is unprotected so you and your IT team can attend to other important matters.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett
By Lucy Bennett Contributing Editor
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.