What Is an EV Certificate or Extended Validation SSL Certificate?

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Do you like site visitors knowing that your website is legitimate? An EV SSL certificate can help you prove it

When you decide to buy an SSL/TLS certificate, you come across various SSL types, and one of them would be an EV SSL certificate. You also might have seen some reputable organizations using an EV SSL certificate on their websites and might wonder, “is it really worth getting an EV SSL for my website?”

In this article, we’ll cover details relating to EV SSL certificates and answer questions like “what is EV certificate?” “Why would I need one?” and “Which type of websites should have an EV SSL cert?” We’ll also discuss additional visual indicators that you’ll get on your site with an EV SSL certificate.

So, without further delay, let’s explore everything about an EV SSL certificate.

What Is an EV certificate?

EV is the acronym of the extended validated SSL certificates. When you purchase an SSL certificate, the certificate authority (CA) needs to follow the validation processes stipulated by the certificate Authority/Browser Forum (CA/B Forum). An SSL certificate is classified into three categories based on this validation process:

  • Domain Validation (DV): Verifies the applicant’s control over the domain.
  • Organization Validation (OV): Domain validation + basic business authentication for all types of legally registered businesses.
  • Extended Validation (EV): Domain validation + rigorous business authentication for businesses at least three years old, legally registered and are in good standing

Among them, an EV SSL certificate has the most rigorous validation process, hence why they’re considered premium SSL certificates. Here, the certificate authority verifies the identity of the business and issues an SSL certificate only when the company:

  • Is legally registered,
  • Has a physical address and office phone number,
  • Listed on the online government database,
  • Has been in the market at least for three years, and
  • Is in the good standing.

In short, the eligibility criteria for getting an EV SSL certificate is so high that only a legitimate company can get it issued for its official website. This gives confidence to website visitors and affirms that the site they’re dealing with is represented by an authentic business, and that their data is redirected to the intended website only. Due to the stringent verification process, 99.99% of domains with EV certificates are legit and aren’t involved in malware or cybercrime activities.

With an EV SSL certificate, all browsers show the company’s legally registered name in the address bar or in the certificate itself as an additional visual indicator of trust. Browsers like Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Microsoft Edge highlight websites with an EV SSL certificate by showing the organization’s name in the eye-catching green color (as shown below):

what is ev certificate

However, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox frequently change their EV visual indicators. Currently, you can see the organization’s name on the certificate itself by clicking on the padlock sign.

Why Is an EV Certificate Necessary?

Now that you know what an EV certificate is, your next obvious question would be why is an EV SSL certificate needed in the first place? The reason is that an SSL certificate has two main security purposes:

  1. Data Encryption: Encryption means scrambling plaintext data into an incomprehensible format known as ciphertext. An SSL certificate enables an encrypted tunnel to transmit the data from one endpoint to another. It also uses up to 2048-bit RSA encryption public and private keys and up to 256-bit AES session key to protect the data. The level of encryption, however, remains the same no matter what type of SSL certificate you use.
  2. Identity Assurance: An SSL certificate authenticates the server and enables a web client to verify whether it’s connecting to a legitimate website.

When the first SSL certificates were introduced to the market in the mid-90s, only legitimate businesses and organizations could get them after going through a rigorous authentication process. This is because they were initially only offered as organization validated certificates. Nowadays, with domain-validated certificates, only the applicant’s domain ownership has been verified to give encryption’s benefits to startups, small businesses, freelancers, and anyone who is not eligible to get an EV SSL certificate.

Because DV certificates have less stringent validation standards, it means that they make it easier for criminals to get those certificates and, as a result, HTTPS phishing and spoofing attacks are on the rise.

An Example of How an EV SSL Certificate Mitigates Web- and Email-Based Cyber Threats

Let’s consider the following example to understand how an EV certificate works to reduce phishing and spoofing attacks:

Let’s say that an attacker buys a domain name “wel1sfargo.com.” Now, they send fraudulent emails to Wells Fargo customers indicating with urgency that unauthorized purchases were made, or that the customers need to change their passwords due to security concerns. Such emails trigger an emotional response in the recipients, and they’re more likely to click on the link provided in the email.

In this case, the link takes them to the wel1sfargo.com website, which is a malicious website that looks virtually identical to the legitimate wellsfargo.com site. Here, security-conscientious users can check to see if there’s a padlock in the web address bar and verify whether the site is the real deal and, if not, leave immediately. Otherwise, the victims share their login credentials or financial information when they try to sign into their accounts. This information is then used by the perpetrator to carry out identity theft and other types of fraud.

However, since Wells Fargo uses an EV SSL certificate on their website, their customers can feel confident knowing that they can verify the company’s information on the site by clicking on the padlock icon. Vigilant customers will be alarmed when they don’t see such visual indicators in the address bar and on the certificate and recognize the fraud website.

What Type of Website Is Suitable for an EV SSL Certificate?

Honestly, not every website requires an EV SSL certificate — some can get away with DV and OV certificates. However, EV SSL certificates are suitable for financial institutions, healthcare institutions, ecommerce website or any other type of business that handles sensitive information, including:

  • Financial information: payment card numbers, bank account details, etc.
  • Personally identifiable information (PII): email address, physical address, phone number, social security number, date of birth, etc.
  • Protected health information (PHI): Health-related patient data.

But make sure you read the EV SSL certificate’s validation process to confirm whether your business is eligible to get an EV SSL certificate.

Wrapping Up

We hope this article helped you to understand “what is an EV certificate,” and how it benefits your organization and site visitors alike. Now, let’s talk about its cost. You might have guessed that an EV SSL certificate would be expensive as it’s meant for business organizations only and has intense validation procedures. (Hence why it’s more expensive than DV and OV SSL certificates.) Still, if you get it from the resellers like SectigoStore.com, you’ll get up to a 46% discount on EV SSL certificates from one of the industry’s most trusted brands!

So, if you’re looking for an SSL certificate for your website that enables stronger identity assurance and increases customer trust, look no further than an EV SSL certificate.

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