What You Can Learn From SSL/TLS Certificates?

Even a few years ago, the general public was not well-versed on TLS/SSL certificates, nor were they particularly concerned about these protections. Sure, the secure padlock icon has been around for years, but most people simply didn't know what it meant or how to find further SSL certificate information.

These days, with the consequences of browsing unprotected and untrustworthy sites well-known, consumers are learning to look for the padlock and additional information as a way to protect their computers, their identities, and their lives.
Consumers can learn a lot from SSL certificate details, and more and more are interested in discovering just how safe a website really is. Here is what you need to know about what can be learned from an SSL certificate.

Consumers can learn a lot from SSL certificate details, and more and more are interested in discovering just how safe a website really is. Here is what you need to know about what can be learned from an SSL certificate.


What information can be gathered from an SSL Certificate

Consumers have access to a lot of information related to TLS/SSL certificates right in their browsers. While not all consumers are terribly interested in the in-depth information available at the click of a mouse, it is important to be aware of what public details are discoverable through an SSL certificate.

SSL certificate information may include the following:

  • Issuing certificate authority (CA)
  • Validity period (as well as certificate revocation list, or CRL, data)
  • Domain it was issued to
  • Company operating the website
  • Key usage
  • Info on algorithms and hash-based cryptography

That's a lot for the average consumer to puzzle over, but more and more concerned users are starting to learn what all this information means and how it impacts their overall safety.

How do users find this information?

The means of discovering SSL certificate details will vary by the browser consumers rely on. In most cases, it begins simply enough by clicking on the green lock icon on the URL bar to open a drop-down menu containing basic information, like the issuing CA and the validity of the certificate. From there, users will have to click through for further information.

Safari Browser Certificate Viewer

For those who have upgraded to Edge, there's bad news. The browser has yet to provide the easy functionality offered by other options. Limited SSL certificate details are provided by clicking the lock icon, but from there users are out of luck.


Why is it important to have an updated SSL certificate?


There are a couple of important reasons to make sure TLS/SSL certificates are up-to-date. For starters, you never want consumers to go digging for information and discover that they're actually not protected when browsing your website. This could not only lead them to boycott your site, but also to call out your lack of security publicly.

In addition, you naturally want to provide the best protections for your website and your customers. This means providing the security offered by a valid SSL certificate and proper encryption. If you want to avoid getting hijacked by unscrupulous cyber criminals and you want to make sure consumers feel safe, an updated SSL certificate is essential.