What Is an ECC SSL Certificate & How Do I Get One for My Website?

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Here’s what an ECC SSL certificate will do for your website.

When you’re searching for website security certificates, terms such as SSL certificate, TLS certificate, RSA certificate, ECC SSL certificate, and many more are thrown your way. Well, if these terms are causing you some headaches, then you’re not the only one. But don’t you worry as we’re here to cure that headache of yours.

In this article, we’ll be talking about ECC SSL certificates, why they’re used, and how you can get one for your website. But before we get to the ECC SSL certificates, it’s quite essential to understand a few things first. Let’s get started!

ECC SSL Certificate: A Quick Explanation

ECC SSL certificates are the certificates that use ECC (elliptical curve cryptography) algorithm to encrypt and decrypt the data transferred between a client (web browser) and web server. It’s a faster and more secure encryption algorithm compared to RSA, the old guard in the industry. Sectigo (formerly ‘Comodo’) offers ECC SSL certificates at the best price in the industry, in case you’re looking for an affordable one for your website.

SSL Certificate: The Foundation of Web Security

All of us spend a significant part of our day on the internet. This time spent could be for your job, on social media, online shopping, in our email inboxes, etc. While doing all these activities, we send a ton of information through our devices. Some of the data is quite sensitive in nature and could cause damage if leaked. This could include our passwords, credit card details, social security number, personal photos, business documents, etc. All such information travels from our devices to the servers of the websites/apps we use. Therefore, we need some kind of mechanism that protects our privacy and makes sure that the data only reaches the intended recipient.

This is where SSL (secure socket layer) certificates come in.

An SSL certificate facilitates a secure connection between clients and servers for a secure transfer of data. It works on a security protocol known as TLS (transport layer security), and that’s why SSL certificates are also known as TLS certificates.

Now you might be wondering how an SSL certificate does all of this. Well, this is done by employing a technique called “encryption.” Encryption is a technique that turns plain-text data into an undecipherable format in such a way that no supercomputer can crack it in a practical time range. This is done by encryption keys. Therefore, only the person who has this secret key will be able to turn the data back to its original format.

Apart from data protection, one critical function performed by an SSL certificate is authentication. It means that an SSL certificate makes sure that you’re communicating with nobody else but the intended party.

Based on the number of encryption keys used, encryption is categorized into two categories known as “symmetric encryption” and “asymmetric encryption.”

Symmetric Encryption & Asymmetric Encryption

Symmetric encryption – as implied in the name itself – is the kind of encryption method that utilizes a single encryption key. This key is employed to carry out both the operations of encryption and decryption.

Asymmetric encryption, on the other hand, is an upgrade to the conventional symmetric encryption method. It involves two encryption keys known as the public key and private key. Both of these keys are distinct yet mathematically related to each other. The public key, as the name suggests, is kept public, and anybody can see it. The private key is supposed to be stored securely. In asymmetric encryption, the process of encryption is done by the public key, while the private key does the process of decryption. This way, only the person who has the private key can decrypt the data.

How SSL certificate Uses Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption

As we saw, symmetric and asymmetric encryption methods are quite different from each other. Both these techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. Symmetric encryption is quite advantageous in terms of its speed/performance as it involves a single key and that too of less length. However, it comes with a key distribution problem. In simpler words, a server serving millions of clients will have to have separate keys for each client. Therefore, it must have a million keys, which is impossible to implement.

Asymmetric encryption offers much more security and practicality as the server uses a single key (private key) to decrypt the data. This makes the protection and management of the key much more manageable. However, not all is good about asymmetric encryption as the encryption keys employed in it are much longer, and therefore, it requires high computational power. This, in turn, impacts the performance of the encryption process and slows it down considerably. It’d be impossible to maintain fast internet speed using asymmetric encryption.

This problem is solved by the hybrid encryption method that offers the security of asymmetric encryption and the speed of symmetric encryption. An SSL certificate utilizes both these kinds of encryption methods. It uses asymmetric encryption method for authentication purpose and symmetric encryption to encrypt the data. Cool, isn’t it?

ECC SSL Certificate: SSL Certificates with the Latest Asymmetric Encryption Algorithm

All encryption methods – whether symmetric or asymmetric – work on mathematical algorithms. These algorithms determine how authentication and encryption will be carried out. The more reliable and faster these algorithms are, the stronger and quicker the encryption process is. The most commonly used PKI algorithms are RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman), DSA (Digital Signature Algorithm), and ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptography).

An ECC SSL certificate, as you can guess by its name, is an SSL certificate that involves the use of the ECC algorithm for the encryption and decryption of the data. ECC is the latest asymmetric encryption algorithm that comes as an alternative to the RSA algorithm, the current industry standard that’s used in the majority of SSL/TLS certificates.

The ECC algorithm came into existence when it was first proposed in 1985 by two independent researchers (Neal Koblitz and Victor S. Miller). Unlike the RSA algorithm that works on the difficulty of factoring large integers, the ECC algorithm is based on discovering the discrete logarithm of a random elliptic curve. It uses elliptic curves over finite fields. This is how the elliptical curve looks:

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ECC SSL Certificate vs. RSA SSL Certificate

So, which one should you go with? ECC SSL certificate or RSA SSL certificate? Well, if you’re worried about security, then you shouldn’t as both of these algorithms are entirely secure, and they’re used by millions of web servers around the world.

However, there’s one key difference between them both. ECC SSL certificates offer the same encryption strength as RSA by applying keys of much shorter length. To give you an example, 256-bit ECC affords you the same encryption strength as a 3072-bit key (which is 50% longer than the 2048-bit keys used today). Therefore, ECC SSL certificates require less computational power, and that ultimately reflects in encryption speed. It enhances network performance and can make a substantial difference in terms of speed for high-volume websites.

A Thing You Must Note

Whether your using ECC, RSA, or any other SSL certificate, it won’t make a dime of a difference if your web server isn’t configured to support it. Therefore, before deciding to go with any old encryption algorithm, you must make sure that you’ve enabled support for that encryption algorithm and the encryption key lengths it requires. 

Where Do I Get an ECC SSL Certificate?

Now here comes the penultimate questions: how do you get an ECC SSL certificate? Well, it’s quite simple as Sectigo – the most trusted SSL certificate authority in the world – offers SSL certificates with the latest ECC algorithm technology. Sectigo Enterprise SSL Pro certificate comes enabled with ECC, giving you superior performance in terms of speed and security. Well, that’s quite simple, isn’t it?

We hope we helped you find the answers to your questions and more! If you have any further questions, you can jump right in the chatbox, and one of our SSL experts will be there to assist you.

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