Renewing your SSL certificate may seem a little daunting. But fortunately, many great hosting providers ensure the process is as simple as possible for their customers. Some even automate the task, making it even easier and more convenient.
If your host doesn’t provide automatic renewal, worry not because I’m going to take you through the simple step-by-step process to ensure your website and its visitors are protected with an SSL certificate.
Why Bother to Renew Your SSL Certificate?
SSL (standing for Secure Sockets Layer) certificates provide security and promote trust. Most of us have stumbled across the “Your connection is not private” page at some point, coupled with that red warning triangle. If this is your website, you could be losing a lot of your potential traffic to competitor websites.
It is easy to see if a website is protected with an SSL certificate. If it is not, the web address will begin with http. On the other hand, those protected with a SSL certificate will begin with https.
An SSL certificate ensures that data that passes between your website’s server and your visitors’ browser is kept private by establishing an encrypted link between the two. Purchasing and renewing your SSL certificate will help to keep your users’ data safe. This can include usernames, passwords, and credit card information, to name a few key aspects. Your SSL certificate will additionally verify the validity of your website, and help protect it from hackers creating a fake version of it. It is therefore an essential component of a secure and reputable website.
Steps For Renewing Your SSL Certificate
There are just four steps for renewing your SSL certificate. Lets take a look at them:
1) Generate a CSR
To begin the process of renewing your SSL certificate, A CSR – Certificate Signing Request – from a Certificate Authority (CA) needs to be generated. A CSR is encrypted text that contains information about your organisation such as its domain name, location, email address, as well as the certificate’s public key. A CA is an organisation that verifies the details of websites, and there are many trusted CAs such as Comodo, DigiCert, and IdenTrust. Most major servers and CAs require a new CSR with SSL certificate renewals.
It is likely that your CSR can be generated through your hosting administration panel. For example, if your host uses cPanel, you will find your SSL Certificate options under the ‘Security’ tab. From there, you can click on the ‘SSL/TLS’ option and then on the link under ‘Certificate Signing Request’.
Fill out the required fields, including any contact information requested to validate that you own the domain the CSR is for. You will then be given a CSR code, which you will need to keep handy for when you re-activate your SSL certificate later on.
2) Purchase and Activate it
Once you have your CSR, you will be able to buy a new SSL certificate, normally directly through your hosting provider. Every host will have their own platform and way of doing things. But generally your hosting account will display the products and services you have purchased from them, including your SSL certificate and its status. When you click on this, you must follow the steps you are prompted to take, supplying all the requested information, including the CSR you generated through your cPanel account.
3) Verify Your Identity
Because SSL certificates are all about security, you will be required to take an extra step to verify your identity and confirm that you own the domain. This is a necessary step to promote the security of the internet as a whole. It’s a process that ensures the legitimacy of websites and businesses.
You may be offered multiple ways to validate your information such as HTTP validation and DNS validation. However, email validation remains the simplest choice. You will be asked to enter the email address that is associated with your domain. Once you receive the verification email, simply follow the instructions it contains.
4) SSL Installation
Full validation can vary greatly, taking hours or even weeks, so it’s important to plan ahead so that there are no time gaps in your site’s protection. Your host may also contact you before your certificate is due for renewal so you can take action as soon as possible.
Once approved, you will normally receive a file containing your certificate via email. The SSL certificate may be added to your website automatically or you may contact your host or other service provider to install it for you. Alternatively, you can install the certificate manually. I will again use the example of a cPanel account, as it is such a widely-popular content management system. From your cPanel account, take the following steps:
1) Access the SSL/TSL link under the security menu.
2) Click on the ‘Manage SSL Sites’ link.
3) Select the option of updating your domain name’s certificate.
4) Next, click on ‘Autofill by domain’, which will automatically fill in the ‘Private Key’ box.
5) After this, enter the text from your certificate’s file in the ‘Certificate: (CRT)’ box.
6) Now click on ‘Install’ and you’re all done.
Once that’s done, you should check every page on your website for https at the beginning of each webpage address.
Remember, control panels and hosting providers can vary in the options that are readily available to you. If you’re stuck, simply contact your host. It’s worth remembering that many hosting providers have the tools and resources to help you with your SSL certificate. This includes both the initial installation process and any renewals.
An SSL certificate really is an essential component of a secure website. Not only does it keep data associated with your website secure, but it also helps with your SEO efforts. Search engines are more likely to prioritise websites with a valid certificate and penalise those without one. There are lots of cost-effective and time-efficient options out there, making the process quick and painless.