An SSL certificate is like a long, complex password associated with your website. Do passwords expire? We can generally say no, but when we get into details of the issue, we can answer that “it depends.” A password can become obsolete if the requirements of the related page or website become updated and require a password to follow a particular format. For example, some sites only accept passwords with a specific length or number of characters.
It all depends
In the same way, an SSL certificate can remain intact without expiring for a long time, but it all depends. Let’s elaborate on this; there are two main types of SSL certificates, the self-signed and those issued by the CAs. When an SSL company accepts to secure your site, it also agrees to the responsibilities that come with the package. For example, Comodo SSL certificates have warranties to users who might lose in any way while browsing sites which are covered by their licenses.
Categories of SSL certificates
To reduce these risks, there are also different categories of SSL certificates. For example, there is domain validated SSL securities which cross-checks the information with an email sent through the whois email address of the domain. As such the certificate issuer is confident that the one purchasing the SSL certificate also has administrative rights to the domain.
Now with the rate at which website changes hand, you can imagine how risky it can become if such a website is issued with a non-expiring SSL certificate. Due to this, the lifespan of a majority of the CAs certs have a definite life. The expiry is just aimed to give the issuer of the certificate another chance to cross-check the information associated with the domain.
Another category of SSL securities is the extended or organization validated SSL securities. These are only issued after the SSL issuer confirms and ascertains that the buyer is the real owner of the said business and has all the required operating documents. Majority of the organizations that takes these kinds of certificates are those that collect sensitive customer data.
The only way to ensure that this information is correct is by regularly collecting the information of the said organization. The safest way to do so is requiring the company to renew the certificate and recheck the documents.
Imagine if a person was to use an ID with a photo of when he/she was a child? Then it would almost be impossible to verify whether the holder of the ID is the real owner. People undergo physical changes as they age and thus the need to constantly update or renew their photos on their verification documents. It’s the main reason you hear of government agencies telling you to upload a recent photo.
On that note, remember that SSL certificates are issued to in fact keep sniffers and hackers out of the system. These people are changing tactics everyday and so should the ones controlling the internet security. If you want to win a war, you have to learn the tactics of the opponent. If they are flexible, invest in flexibility too.
All that said, let’s get to the core functioning of the SSL certificate to see whether it’s wise to have a non-expiring domain or not. An SSL certificate uses two main keys; the public key and the private key. The public key encrypts the data while the private one decrypts the data. To get the picture clearly, let’s illustrate using an example.
When a person queries the internet, a communication line is established between the browser and the website servers. The browser will request the website server to identify itself, and in turn, it will send a copy of the SSL certificate. Once authenticated, the communication is completed on full encryption.
One of the major SSL providers who have a non-expiring certificate is Cloudflare. However, we should also note that this only applies to the free SSL certificates. As you might also be aware, the free SSL only encrypt one part of the communication and transmits information on the other end as plain text. We great team of experts can install Cloudflare SSL for you. Just sit down and relax and we will do the job for you. Click here for more information!
However, a majority of the website owners require only the green padlock and the HTTPS. As such, irrespective of whether the certificate expires or not, it has no big significance as long as the green padlock is present. The biggest challenge is that some browsers might start highlighting the non-expiring certificates as not safe after the expiry of a certain period.
Basically, SSL certificates have a lifespan of 3 years, but a majority of the CAs offer yearly certificates that are renewable annually. Also, a certificate can be set to renew automatically and make it appear as non-expiring from the surface.
How much does an SSL cost:
SSL certificates are issued by certified companies which take or carry the risk associated with the usage of your site. In line with that, they are in a business venture that incurs an operational cost. How else can you run a business without charging the clients? One source of income is the renewal fees.
These SSL certs costs vary from one provider to the other or from one type of certificate to the other. Having a non-expiring certificate means that the operational costs are minimal and thus the quality of services offered might not be top notch. However, if you are only concerned about the average security or your site does not collect sensitive data, then you can go with the free non-expiring SSL certificates.
Who should get an SSL certificate?
Any person who has a website or a blog should get an SSL certificate. There is a wrong notion that only those who require the SSL are the ones handling sensitive information like passwords and credit card information. However, the unfortunate bit is that every browser has a way of warning its users if they are about to visit a site without an SSL certificate. When the browser warns the majority of the web users, they prefer to go back to safety and leave the connection to your site. That’s a visitor lost.
If you have ever heard of a non-expiring SSL certificate, then you heard it right since there are those that have an unlimited lifespan. For example, SSL from Cloudflare has no expiry period and runs trustfully on major browsers. However, if there are major updates on the internet, you might be forced to reset the certificate irrespective of whether it’s expired or not.