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What Is A Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificate?

Have you ever wondered why some websites have a padlock icon and “https” in the address bar, while others don’t? Well, that little icon and those letters are indicators of website security, and they’re made possible by SSL certificates.

Today, we’ll focus on Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificates – the most common type of SSL certificate used by websites. We’ll explain how they work, how to get your hands on one, and if you’re curious about other types of SSL certificates, we’ll cover those too.

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to secure your website and keep your visitors safe from cyber threats. So, let’s dive in!

What Exactly Is An SSL?

To understand what a Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificate is, it’s important to know what SSL certificates are in general first.

Basically, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are digital certificates that authenticate the identity of a website and encrypt the data transmitted between a website and its visitors.

When a user visits a website, their web browser and the website’s server establish an SSL connection, which creates a secure tunnel through which data can be transmitted. You can think of the SSL certificate as a digital passport that verifies the identity of the website and encrypts the data transmitted through this secure tunnel.

These certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs), which are trusted third-party entities that verify the identity of website owners and issue SSL certificates. There are several types of SSL certificates available, including Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV), Extended Validation (EV), and Wildcard SSL certificates.

What Are Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificates?

A Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificate works by verifying that the domain name associated with a website is owned by the person or entity requesting the certificate. This verification process is usually done through an email sent to the domain owner’s email address, or through a file that needs to be uploaded to the website’s server.

Once the Certificate Authority (CA) has verified the domain ownership, they issue the DV SSL certificate, which enables the website to encrypt data transmissions between the server and the user’s browser. This encryption makes it more difficult for hackers to intercept and steal sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

DV SSL certificates are the most common and most affordable (sometimes even free!) type of SSL certificate used by websites, as they provide basic encryption and authentication for website visitors. They’re also the simplest and quickest to obtain, as the validation process is typically automated and only requires proof of domain ownership.

How Do I Obtain A DV SSL Certificate?

If you’re a website owner and you want to obtain a Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificate, you’ll be happy to know that the process is pretty fast and straightforward. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Choose a Certificate Authority (CA) The first step in obtaining a DV SSL certificate is to select a trusted Certificate Authority (CA). It’s worth noting that there are both free and paid options available. Let’s Encrypt, for example, is a non-profit CA that offers free DV SSLs. Paid options—which can range from $10 to $200—may offer additional features and support, but for basic website security, a free DV SSL certificate should suffice. What’s more, some web hosting providers like Hostinger and DreamHost also offer DV SSL certificates as part of their hosting packages.
  2. Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) Once you’ve chosen a CA, you’ll need to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). This is a file that contains information about your website and is used to verify your domain ownership. Most web hosting providers have tools that can help you generate a CSR.
  3. Submit the CSR to the CA After generating a CSR, you’ll need to submit it to the CA along with proof of domain ownership. This can be done through an email sent to the domain owner’s email address, or through a file that needs to be uploaded to the website’s server.
  4. Receive and install the DV SSL certificate Once the CA has verified your domain ownership, they’ll issue the DV SSL certificate, which can usually be downloaded from the CA’s website. You’ll then need to install the certificate on your website’s server. Most web hosting providers have tools that can help you with this step.

Are There Any Drawbacks To DV SSL Certificates?

Although Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificates provide encryption and authentication for website visitors, they do have some limits you’ll want to take note of, namely:

  • Limited validation DV SSL certificates only verify domain ownership, and don’t provide any information about the organization behind the website. This means that anyone who owns a domain name can obtain a DV SSL certificate, regardless of their intentions or legitimacy. While the risk of a malicious actor obtaining a DV SSL certificate is relatively low, it’s still possible.
  • Limited warranty DV SSL certificates typically come with a limited warranty from the Certificate Authority (CA) that issues the certificate. This warranty is a guarantee that the SSL certificate will provide the level of encryption and authentication advertised by the CA. However, the warranty amount for DV SSL certificates is usually lower than that for Organization Validation (OV) or Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates, which provide higher levels of authentication and security.
  • No green address bar Unlike Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates, DV SSL certificates don’t provide a green address bar in the web browser. While the absence of a green address bar doesn’t necessarily indicate that a website is not secure, it can impact the level of trust and confidence that website visitors have in the website.

How Does It Compare To The Other Types Of SSL Certificates?

Before purchasing an SSL for your website, it does pay to consider all your options first. So, if your curious to see how DV SSLs fare against other certificates, take a look at our handy cheat sheet below:

SSL cert typeValidationAssurancePrice range (per year)Recommended for
Domain Validation (DV) SSL
Only domain ownership
$0 – $250
Personal blogs, small business websites, non-sensitive information websites
Organization Validation (OV) SSL
Domain ownership and organization’s legal existence& operational status
$60 – $400
E-commerce websites, financial institutions, healthcare providers
Extended Validation (EV) SSL
Domain ownership, organization’s legal& operational status, and extended verification
$180 – $1000
Government websites, banking institutions, online payment gateways
Wildcard SSL
Domain ownership and multiple subdomains under a domain name
Basic to higher
$50 – $500
Websites with multiple subdomains under a domain name, such as e-commerce websites and CMS

The certificate most suitable for you will ultimately depend on the type of business you run, the level of validation and trust required for your specific needs, as well as your budget. Having a good grasp of these factors will help you pick the best one for your website.

DV SSL Certificates Save The Day

So, that’s a wrap on our discussion about Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificates! We hope you’ve learned something new and feel more confident about purchasing an SSL certificate for your website.

Just to recap, DV SSL certificates are a great choice if you have a personal blog, small business website, or don’t deal with super sensitive data. They’re affordable and provide basic encryption and authentication to keep your site secure.

However, if you’re running a larger e-commerce store, financial institution, or government website, you’ll want to consider upgrading to an OV or EV SSL certificate. These options offer a higher level of validation and trust, which is crucial if you’re dealing with important data or transactions.

But for our small business owners, don’t worry if you’re just starting out or on a tight budget – there are plenty of options available to you. Many of the best web hosts offer DV SSL certificates as part of their hosting packages too, which can save you time and money.

Thanks for reading, and we wish you all the best in your online endeavors!

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