SSL Certificate Validation Types

An SSL Certificate contains two pieces of information. The first is a cryptographic key used to secure the information transferred between a web server and a web browser. The second are details about the organization that purchased the certificate. This second part is the visible piece that helps a visitor trust the website they’re browsing. In order for SSL certificate issuers to provide you with a valid certificate, they must first validate those details to be true.

 

Domain Validation (DV)

An SSL certificate with domain validation is the simplest, quickest, and most affordable type of SSL. With DV certificates, the company that purchases the certificate has to validate they own the domain the certificate is intended for. This validation can be done through creating a CNAME record, adding a validation file to the server where the domain is hosted, or sending an email to one of a specific set of email addresses. This last method is the most common and typically the quickest. 

SSL certificates with DV usually take just a few hours to issue. Since the issuing company doesn’t have to do much work during the validation process, these certificates also tend to be affordable. However, certificates with only domain validation are less trusted by website visitors because the certificates don’t provide any assurance about the company that owns the website/domain. This is especially true if a visitor is asked to submit any sort of information (name, email, etc.) or make a purchase on the site. 

 

Organization Validation (OV)

SSL certificates with organization validation require more time to validate and take longer to issue. When ordering an SSL certificate with OV, your basic business contact information is gathered and passed to the company issuing the certificate. The business information is then matched and verified using a variety of trusted 3rd party websites. This process isn’t extensive but may take 2 to 3 days. Problems may arise if your business address, phone number, or name has recently changed. There may still be listings for your business that haven’t been updated to reflect the new information. 

 

SSL certificates with OV are more expensive but provide additional assurance and information to visitors. If your business is looking to build trust with website visitors, an SSL certificate with OV is the best choice. 

 

Extended Validation (EV)

Extended validation SSL certificates provide the highest level of trust to visitors because of the additional business details that are validated. A list of requirements and information verified by the certificate  issuer can be found here on the GeoTrust website.

 

The list is quite long and causes EV SSL certificates to take multiple days (sometimes up to a week or longer) to be issued. These certificates had previously provided websites with a green address bar, which was a great visual cue to website visitors. While this is no longer the case, the EV SSL certificates are still an effective trust mechanism, especially when you’re running an ecommerce website.  

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