Security and Safety. Two words that give you the same idea. No matter where we live, we want to feel safe and secure. And that’s totally normal. Since many people have an active digital life, security is of utmost importance in the online world as well as the physical one. What is the ‘’base’’ of anything that’s part of the online space? Yes, a website.
Since most of the web is built using websites, securing them is an important step in making the web safer. One of the most popular and efficient ways to secure a website is to install an SSL Certificate on it.
This is a globally accredited way to secure any website. But maybe you’re wondering what an SSL Certificate is? Or how can you get one for your website? Let me help you with that. During this article you’ll learn how to make your website safe by adding freely an SSL certificate to it.
But first, let’s see what this certificate is actually. Basically, an SSL is a tool that is bound to a specific website and makes it safe for any visitor. It does this, by encrypting your user’s/visitor’s data. Let me give you an example, so you know what I’m talking about.
Let’s say you own an online store and someone accesses your website. He chooses a specific item in your offering, then decides to purchase it. So, he has to pay for that product, right? In most cases this is done by entering his credit/debit card info into a simple request form.
But how do you make sure nobody unwanted will access (hack) this sensitive information? With an SSL certificate.
An SSL in this case will encrypt you buyer’s credit card info, so only you (the administrator) and the destination server can access it, nobody else. This way your buyer can make the payment in a safe environment.
But does this mean, that if you don’t own a shop, you have no use for an SSL certificate. No, that’s not at all true. Why? Because most types of sites do some kind of information exchange.
Even if you have a simple blog, you could ask for someone’s email address, so you can send out a newsletter. Most blogs do this kind of subscriptions. The SSL will ensure that only you, the addressee will know that email address.
If you use an SSL, your visitors will know that you care about their privacy and security. You can even get higher in the search rankings on Google with an SSL because the search engine sees that your site is a trusted place.
The idea is, that it’s worth adding one to your site. There are many more cases when you could need an SSL certificate, but I won’t list them all here.
Before we move on to talk about the best choices for getting a free SSL, you should know how you can notice the difference between a site that has SSL installed, and one that doesn’t.
Well, this is quite simple: just take a look in the address bar and check the site’s URL. If the website you’re visiting has this in the URL: HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure), then you can be sure, it’s a secure website that uses security features.
But if you only see HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) written, without the letter ‘’S’’, the site is not using an SSL certificate for safety measures.
Now, I’ll move on, and give you the 3 best tools that let you add a Free SSL Certificate to your website:
1. Let’s Encrypt
This non-profit company is our first pick that works for many people around the world. Let’s Encrypt is a free certificate authority (CA) that can be used by any site owner. This service is provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). Basically, the company provides people with digital certificates needed to secure their websites by enabling HTTPS on them for free.
What are some of the benefits with using Let’s Encrypt?
- Entirely Free (as I already mentioned): anyone who owns a domain name can use this service free of cost.
- Secure: This service is a platform that helps its users properly secure their servers without any setbacks
- Cooperative: Let’s Encrypt is a joint effort that can benefit the whole world without being under the control of any one organization. This gives us the next perk with using it.
- The Community behind the platform is here to help you anytime. It’s most likely that if you stumble upon an issue somebody else has already dealt with it. So, just look around in the community forums and the other users will be glad to help you out.
- Automatic: This might one of the most popular bonuses with Let’s Encrypt. If you use this tool, it will take care automatically of the configuration and renewal of the certificate. You don’t have to worry about too much technicality.
Something that comes with almost any open-source platform is a documentation. Let’s Encrypt also makes available a detailed documentation, so you can tweak your SSL as much as you want. This can also be a great asset, if you’re trying to figure out some potential problems. But if you’re not finding your answer here, the community is always there to help out.
The biggest question is though: Is Let’s Encrypt safe? The short answer is yes. The service is using 2048-bit encryption, but you can use 4096-bit as well. Both of these are safe. But most of the security depends on your configuration. If you do everything as suggested in the documentation, you should have a secure website without any leaks.
There’s a reason why many other companies consider Let’s Encrypt a competitor, so yes, this service is definitely reliable and efficient in making your website secure.
2. Comodo SSL
Comodo is another free SSL certificate provider. This is a genuine company who comes with many available services and one of them is the possibility to use free SSL for 90 days. They have paid versions as well, but now we’ll take a look at the free one (this being a trial). They claim it is as good as the paid variant, giving you immediate website security.
Comodo’s free 90-day SSL comes with the following features:
- 2048-bit signatures and 256-bit encryption resulting in a high level of security
- Recognized by all of the major web browsers and devices
- It’s done in minutes, without any need of paperwork
- Signed from a trusted root, same as the one for the paid version
If you want a trusted SSL certificate provider, then Comodo could be a good choice. They are a well-known brand with many possibilities in the area of internet security. Just take a look on the official website, and check out for yourself.
The difference between Let’s Encrypt and Comodo’s SSL is that the first one is totally free to use, but Comodo only gives SSL for free for the first 90 days. Yes, once the trial period is over you are asked to renew your certificate for a cost. But if you want to test out an SSL before you go entirely with that certain option, Comodo’s 3-month trial could be a good method to do that. This way you’ll be sure what your site really needs in order to make it fully secure for your visitors.
3. Hosting Provider
This might be unexpected, but I’ll tell you why it’s a good option. Maybe you don’t know this, but lots (and I really mean lots) of companies who provide hosting also give you SSL included in some of their plans. Just to name a few of these providers:
- InMotion Hosting
But you may be thinking if this really is a free option. Well, if you own a website, you have to purchase a hosting plan from one of the many hosting companies out there. This is the most popular way to set up a website.
So, if you already need to sign up for a hosting plan, why not choose one that has an SSL certificate included in the price.
Many of the above-mentioned companies (and other ones too) give you hosting for low prices and include an SSL in the package. This way you make sure from the start that your site it’s protected and secure for your users.
Something great about this option is the fact that besides a normal SSL certificate, you could get another or even more tools that take care of your website’s safety. And all these are included in the price of the original hosting package.
Now you know that having a secure website is very important and it’s available for free if you want. These 3 options I mentioned in the article are the best ones to get your free SSL certificate.
If you search online you could find more, but I just gave you the most efficient methods.
If you already own a website, the best choice for you would be to go with Let’s Encrypt.
This way you don’t need to change anything on the website, just install the SSL on it, and you’re good to go. Comodo is another good option to try out as well.
But if you’re thinking to create a new website, you could sign up from the start for a hosting package that comes with free SSL included.
This is simpler, and your site is secure from the moment it goes live on the web. Think about your specific situation and choose the option that works best for you.