What is a Website Security Certificate?

what is a website security certificate.

#What is a Website Security Certificate?

Website Security Certificate

If you've ever seen the error, “There is a problem with this website's security certificate” and wondered what it means? Security certificates can be a little tricky, but it's worth learning what they are and how they help us. So, what is a website security certificate, and why should we care about it?

Also Read: What Is HSTS And How To Activate It


1. Why Website Security Certificates are Important

2. How Do Site Owners Get Certificates?

3. How Certificate Security Can Be Improved

4. Free Working Certificate Authority

5. What to Do If You See a Certificate Warning

6. Conclusion

Why Website Security Certificates are Important

When you access a website where you need to log in and manage an account, it is important to protect the communication between you and the service. This service can be a bank, online store or e-commerce website, PayPal, email, or your personal blog. When you access a website like this, you will see the URL starts with a lock icon and “http s : //� not just “http://�.

Why Website Security Certificates are Important

This additional “S� means you are using HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure). HTTPS connections are protected by Secure Socket Layer / Transport Layer Security. Data sent between you and the website is encrypted and keeps the information confidential.

Just like how you go to a website to prove that you are the real one, the website has to prove to you that it is real too. This is done by showing the internet security certificate to your browser. If the browser accepts the certificate, it shows you that the site is legitimate with a key symbol.

If a secure website doesn't have the HTTPS protocol or certificate, you might see a fake one. Logging in to this website might send your data to the wrong people, which will make you a victim of a man-in-the-middle attack.

If you want to check if everything is normal, you can click on the lock to see more details on the certificate. This lock icon will also change to let you know if there is a problem.

Check Google's description for use in Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox's description. At the time of writing, both browsers will show a regular lock if all is well. If the lock has been or is replaced with such an icon, it's an indication that something is wrong.

How Do Site Owners Get Certificates?

The owner of an e-commerce website pays a third party called a Certificate Authority (CA) to verify who the company is and that the transaction is authentic. Web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Firefox, maintain a list of Authority certificates they deem to be trustworthy. When you access a secure website, this site presents its security certificate to your browser. If the website certificate is up to date and from a trusted certificate Authority, you are allowed to log in and complete your transaction.

There are many website security certificates that help website owners be secured. These include Norton, GoDaddy, Microsoft, Cloudflare, and many others. Their job is to do Domain Verification, where they make sure the person applying for the certificate is also the owner of the website.

This is usually done by sending instructions to the website's email address to make sure only the site owner reads it. The sender will ask the admin to change the DNS Server settings or files on the website to prove it's really them. If the admin did apply for the certificate, they can follow the instructions to verify their identity.

How Certificate Security Can Be Improved

There are more stringent certificate types that CAs can offer to verify business, such as Extended Validation. This can cost hundreds of dollars, and large companies will sometimes pay thousands.

Extended Validation includes verifying information such as the legal identity of the website owner, company name, physical address, registration, and jurisdiction of incorporation. The security of this website is an important measure of trustworthiness if you are running a business.

In 2019, you usually see the business name in the certificate section of Chrome or Firefox browsers; however, in 2019, both browsers removed this feature. You can still see it if you use Opera.

How Certificate Security Can Be Improved

Free Working Certificate Authority

There are free Certificate Authorities out there, but they don't have the same layer of security as the big names. In addition, they often lack ubiquitous recognition of their browsers. That means if someone gets a free security certificate, visitors can see a warning that the certificate is invalid.

You can get free Domain Verification from StartSSL without identity validation. Mozilla and Chrome browsers will trust your website with this certificate.

CACert is a free, community-based certificate Authority. CACert Assurance volunteers meet with site owners to review your ID documents in person. Unfortunately, major browsers don't trust CACert, and they're only included in some open-source operating systems.

Free Working Certificate Authority

However, using CACert and StartSSL will offer encryption of your site, so if you have simple user interactions on your site (like a forum or wiki) this free service might be just what you need.

What to Do If You See a Certificate Warning

What to Do If You See a Certificate Warning

There is a possibility that you may encounter certificate warnings while surfing the internet. You can see what they look like in BadSSL , which has links to bad certificates for you to try.

When you get a warning on a real website, check the certificate details by clicking on the lock. You can find out why your browser refused the certificate and decide for yourself whether you want to continue. If the certificate expires, the website owner may forget to renew it on time. You should check the date of your computer clock if you see this warning frequently.

If the browser revokes the security certificate, it means the site is using the certificate fraudulently and you should not trust it. If the browser doesn't like the Authority certificate, it will downgrade to you. If you think you understand and trust the CACert peer-to-peer verification model or StartSSL domain verification, you can tell your browser to trust the CA.

When you see a certificate alert from a site you trust, you can also try checking social media such as the website's Twitter, which is often home to updates about the site, downtime, security, and other issues.


A Website Security Certificate may sound tedious, but it is important to identify a secure website. Now you know how to check certificates if something goes wrong, as well as how to secure your own website if you wish.

Hopefully, this article about What is a Website Security Certificate?, gives you a little insight. Also, read an article about What Is A WiFi Extender And How Does It Work that you may need to know. Thank you.

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