Free SSL Certificate – where to get and how to install on your website

1 Comment » Written on August 11th, 2016 by
Categories: Website Development

free-ssl-certificateWebsite security has become a more and more debated topic these days given the multitude of hacking attacks stealing customer information, online surveillance and ranking factors. Until recently, securing a website with an SSL certificate was a bit more expensive than many website owners were prepared to pay. But things have changed and having your website secured has turned to be a free ride if you know what to do.

First of all, what does it mean to secure your website with an SSL certificate? It means that your website will become accessible over the https protocol rather than http. When the website will accessed over a secure protocol (https), the connection between the website and the user browser is encrypted, so any hackers or outsiders trying to intercept communication will end up with nothing usable. If you do not have customers who's details and payment data you should protect, than the SEO ranking factor is another factor for choosing to secure your website.

Now that we all understand the concept of website security and why we should do that, what should you do add this layer of protection on your website?

Until recently SSL certificates were all paid services, and there still are many such left, but the trend is changing and some free alternatives started to make place in the industry:

  1. Web Hosting - more and more web hosts started offering Free SSL by to their users. The offer in SSL is different from a web host to another however. DreamHost for example offers free SSL certificates in cooperation with Let's Encrypt. Regardless how many websites you host on your account, you can enable SSL to all of these, and the certificates will be automatically renewed. IXWebHosting does not offer a free certificate, but it allows you to import a SSL certificate from a third party provider, so getting a free certificate from Let's Encrypt and installing it is a good option. 1and1.com on the other hand offers for every type of hosting account one free certificate issued by Symantec. It is easy to activate, so this makes it a good option, however if you want certificates that can be used on subdomains or on multiple domains/websites, you will have to buy from them as they don't offer support for installing outsider certificates.
  2. Cloudflare - this is the content delivery network, having a range of tools available for free to all webmasters. Among these tools is the SSL certificate issued by COMODO. All you have to do to enjoy this free SSL certificate on you website is make your website go through Cloudflare. The beauty of Cloudflare is that it has no limitations, so no matter how many websites you have, you can use the same account to get SSL for all your projects. SSL renewals are automatic, so you need to do nothing.
  3. Let's Encrypt - this is a project started by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), a non-profit organization aiming to make the Internet a secure place. Let's Encrypt issues free security certificates to everyone. The little problem here is that you need to put in some of your time to make the implementation of the SSL on your website, and renewals are required quite often (maximum validity is 90 days at the moment), so re-implementation needs to take place on a regular basis. They do however work on different projects that will automate the renewals, but this is not easily done if you are on a shared hosting.

Now that you know where to get these security certificates for free, you may also want to see how you can install manually a SSL certificate on your hosting account.

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