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    The Top 5 Most Popular SSL Certificate Authorities Reviewed

    Byadmin

    Oct 13, 2021


    As the internet has moved towards a more secure and privacy-respecting web with HTTPS a standard feature of all websites, it’s more important than ever that site admins get a hold of an SSL certificate from a registered certificate authority.

    If you want to save yourself the hassle of researching, purchasing, and installing SSL certificates for your site(s), you can get regular SSL and wildcard SSL certificates installed for free automatically with our secure fully managed WordPress hosting.

    Or, if you prefer to do it all yourself, read our side-by-side comparison of the top five certificate authorities below. It will help you decide, which company offers an SSL certificate best suited to your needs.

    What to Look Out for in a Certificate Authority

    When it comes to choosing a Certificate Authority (CA), it comes down to knowing what you need and which CA has it.

    To help you decide, here are the main types of SSL certificates to choose from:

    • Domain Validation (DV) – Certificates that are quick to be issued since only the domain is verified for legitimacy.
    • Wildcard – The root domain and its sub-domains can be included in a single certificate.
    • Extended Validation (EV) – Distinguishable by the browser’s address bar being colored green as opposed to only the https text. Both the legal identity of the business or organization and domain needs to be verified for legitimacy.
    • Unified Communications (UC) – Used for encrypting the connection for use with email and other communication software. Multiple domains can be included in one certificate, and it’s also a type of Subject Alternative Name certificate.
    • Subject Alternative Name (SAN) – The root domain and related domains that are linked can be included under one certificate
    • Wildcard – A certificate that includes the root and its sub-domains.
    • Organization Validation (OV) – Similar to extended validation certificates where both the legal identity of the business or organization and the domain is verified for authenticity, except it doesn’t include a green address bar.

    There are also different kinds of encryption that you may come across when searching through different Certificate Authorities:

    The higher the bit rate of encryption, the better the security. Although, ECC is stronger than RSA, so an ECC 256-bit certificate is stronger than an RSA 2048-bit certificate.

    The difference between RSA and DSA is that the former is faster at validating signatures, which are encrypted keys that are used in the process of issuing an SSL certificate. RSA is also slower at creating signatures. DSA encryption is the opposite since it’s faster at creating signatures, but it’s slower when validating them.

    Knowing the difference between the most common types of certificates is a start, but now it’s time to determine which kind of certificate you need.

    Which Certificate Do I Need?

    As a general rule of thumb, here are the types of sites that commonly need each kind of certificate mentioned above:

    • Domain Validation – Any WordPress site, any site that has a form or basic sites.
    • Extended Validation – eCommerce, business or organization sites or any site that wants to present themselves as extremely trustworthy.
    • Unified Communications – For email servers and it’s also a requirement for Microsoft Exchange.
    • Subject Alternative Name – You have multiple domains that are all related but aren’t necessarily sub-domains and can include email or IP addresses, DNS name or URL.
    • Wildcard – For WordPress Multisite networks set up with sub-domains. (Learn more about using Wildcard SSL for WordPress Multisite).
    • Organization Validation – Business or organization sites which need to appear as trustworthy.

    Now that you have a better idea of the kind of SSL certificate you need, let’s take a look at which of the top Certificate Authorities can fill your encryption requirements.

    Top Certificate Authorities Reviewed

    There are many Certificate Authorities on the market, but these are the most popular options. Below is a review of each of them based on five categories: price, the variety of the certificates offered, the warranty that’s included with certificates, compatibility across browsers and mobile devices and the included features.

    All of these Certificate Authorities issue certificates that work and that are secure. That’s why there isn’t a category in the review for security. It all comes down to your needs and the specific features and capabilities that are included when a certificate is issued from these options.

    Notes:

    • This post originally contained reviews for Symantec and GeoTrust SSL certificates, but these products have since been acquired by Digicert. You can still purchase GeoTrust SSL certificates (powered by Digicert).
    • The details and warranty dollar amounts included for each Certificate Authority are accurate at the time this review was published.

    Let’s Encrypt is an open source Certificate Authority that’s backed by companies such as Automattic, Mozilla, Sucuri, WPMU DEV, Facebook, Chrome and many more. It offers RSA 2048-bit encryption with ECDSA encryption currently in development.

    Getting a DV certificate and renewal is free for everyone and you can have as many as you want. With the Certbot installer, you can also have multiple certificates up and running in seconds. Issuing a SAN or UC certificate can also be done by adding multiple names to an otherwise DV certificate.

    Even though certificates are free, it doesn’t mean it’s not secure. As I mentioned earlier, It’s just as secure as most other Certificate Authorities so it’s a suitable option if you’re on a budget. Unfortunately (and understandably), free certificates don’t come with any kind of warranty or extra features.

    It’s not the kind of certificate you can use for any given situation, but it’s a viable option for many sites that only require domain validation.

    The Good