When you open your online storefront to accept credit cards, you enter a world of ever-increasing security. One important piece to your new shopping experience, is an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layers and it is a protocol to provide security over the internet. That just means that any information transferred from your web site through an SSL connection will be encrypted so that it can’t be intercepted and read by a random third party.
Many web hosts will allow customers to use a shared SSL certificate for free. This sounds like a great idea, and for some it really is all that is needed. However, for a small fee, you can purchase your own dedicated or private certificate. So, what’s the difference?
- The URL changes when using a shared certificate, but stays the same with a private certificate
- Dedicated SSL will use your own URL in the address bar: https://www.yoursite.com
- Shared SSL will use some version of the host machine information: https://darthvader.snhdns.com/~yoursite.
- A shared certificate can cause a warning to pop up to users on some browsers since the certificate is owned by the host and not the web site owner. This doesn’t mean the certificate isn’t working, but it may cause concern with some customers. You are the owner of a dedicated SSL.
- With a dedicated SSL, you can choose the level of security for your web site. With a shared SSL you inherit the security settings set by the host.
- Some out of the box shopping carts require a dedicated SSL. For some reason, some carts just don’t know how to deal with the URL differences in a shared certificate, forcing the issue of purchasing a dedicated certificate.
Shared and dedicated SSL certificates both provide security for your web site. They both use the same encryption methods to transfer data over the web. They both make that little lock show up on the browser letting you and your customers know the information is safe. The decision is yours. Take a look at your needs, the size of your store, your typical user and your budget for the site. It all comes down to user experience and dollars and cents.