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SSL Certificates explained: DV vs OV vs EV

By December 30, 2016 No Comments

The use of SSL certificates has increased quite a bit over the years. An appealing option for enhancing the security and confidentiality of a website, acquiring an SSL certificate shows a certain amount of dedication and legitimacy. For professional organizations in particular, this can be important. A lot of Australian web hosting companies offer some kind of free SSL these days, so definitely keep an eye out for that. While SSL certificates all in all similarly provide data protection and validation, it’s smart to be aware of the different kinds of SSL certificates that exist.

The differences between DV, OV, and EV SSL certificates particularly pertains to their different validation methods. All SSL certificates must be verified by the Certified Authority (CA), but there are different levels of trust provided depending on the validation method. These different SSL certificates include Domain validated (DV), Organization validated (OV), and Extended validation (EV) certificates.

Domain Validated Certificates

DV certificates are the most common SSL certificates among the three. One of the more appealing features of DV certificates is their low cost in comparison to the OV and EV certificates. This makes DV certificates more appealing for those small or start-up businesses looking for sufficient protection. They are also very simple to acquire in that they can be issued almost immediately and verified using only the domain name; hence the name Domain validating certificate. While they share the same browser recognition that comes with the OV certificates, they are not quite the same, though we will get to those differences in a moment.

In terms of how the DV does appear on the browser, up where web users can see the URL of a website, the standard HTTP after acquiring a DV certificate becomes HTTPS. This communicates that the site is indeed secured using SSL. There will also be a padlock symbol on the right side of the address bar, following the URL. A website lacking that padlock sign then – since one similar or identical can be seen with all types of SSL certificates – is therefore indicated to not be secured through SSL.

Organization Validated Certificates

OV certificates require more validation than the DVs but still less than the EVs. They may also be referred to often as High Assurance certificates. In requiring that additional validation, OV certificates can provide more trust than the DVs. Although not exclusively, OV certificates tend to be used by the government and corporations that need that higher standard of trust and protection for their visitors. It may go without saying that an additionally secure web presence may be particularly more appealing to one web host over another. Web hosts applying for an OV certificate will need to provide company details before the certificate is issued for the details – and the corporation – to be appropriately vetted. The process of issuance is then not as simple as that for a DV, but the payoff can still be worth it for the extra assurance.

Also, as mentioned above, in terms of how the OV appears on a browser, it looks just the same as the DV with the HTTPS and the padlock symbol.

Extended Validation Certificates

EV certificates are the real royal treatment, known for being the highest standard in Internet trust. In providing the most trust, acquiring these certificates also requires the most effort for validation by the CA. The latest in SSL technology, EV certificates appear slightly different in a browser to the DV and OV certificates. While the latter two appear similar on a browser, with the acquisition of an EV certificate, a website will show a green address bar. This is the most noticeable difference that can tip visitors off in determining which kind of SSL a website is using. In addition to the green address bar, next to the padlock symbol will be the name of the company in possession of the EV certificate. As with the green bar, it is only by acquiring an EV certificate that the company can get their name displayed in the address bar. The immediate tip-off in the green address bar, as well as the added level of trust and security, of EV certificates therefore often make it the most appealing option for bigger corporations.

In conclusion, although all SSL certificates essentially function the same, the difference in validation methods between DV, OV, and EV SSL certificates are worth knowing.