Risk and Disadvantages of Using a Self-Signed Certificate

A person identifies himself with his own created stamp and sign- This is the same case goes with Self-Signed Certificate. Yes, this kind of certificate is generated by the owner to identify himself/herself. Instead of choosing trusted certificates issued by the CA (certificate authority), many organizations still prefer Self- Signed certificate that does not follow certain rules and regulation laid by the CA.

Self-Signed Certificates are in Danger Zone of Browser Authorities

However,  Self-Signed certificates do lack of trust among browsers and at present, browser authorities show disinterest in such certificates. Whether you visit a website in Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or any browser, Self-Signed certificates have no place in their trusted certificate list. So, if you want a perfect solution for your website security that your customer will also like, then there are trusted SSL certificates offered by many certificate authorities, for example, Comodo, RapidSSL, Thawte, GlobalSign, Sectigo, etc. Even, browsers have also implemented their root certificates in their list which does update on a regular base.

Impact on Business:

Browsers always show a warning like The connection is not private. Attackers might steal your information, which you can see in the below image.

Due to rising malware and online theft environment, instances of multiple credit card scams and password theft have been in news around us since long time. Customers have been started to take care of their data and other important credentials. They now want surety of their payment especially made over the web. In this critical scenario, if any website has no SSL or Self-Signed certificate then it may reduce company’s business as well cause reduce in credibility of a business. It is advisable to buy SSL certificate from a trusted certificate authority as customers/visitors will move away from your website when they see self-signed certificate warning.

Ignore Warning: A Risky Behaviour

Organizations always advise their employees to avoid warning popup on internal sites as they use Self-Signed certificate. It gradually converts in the tendency to avoid a warning on the browser and this habit could invite malware or vulnerability in organizations’ server or IT system as employees’ lack of awareness can bring heavy loss to organizations and their valuable data or information.

Chances of Self-Signed Certificate Deployment:

Despite of warning, if the organization is testing an application in the internal environment, developers tend to use Self-Signed certificate. In another case when clients want to pass through a local intranet to reach to the server and there are no chance of malware interference then clients may opt for Self-Signed Certificates.

Disadvantages of Self-Signed Certificate:

Below are some disadvantages that could stop you from thinking of Self-Signed certificate and you may end up with an opting 3rd party SSL certificate.

  • Websites will have less business volume as customers will avoid to visit your website further.
  • Attackers may take advantage of such a vulnerable website and penetrate such insecure website to gain advantages. According to 2018 report from OTA, cyber incidents got doubled in year 2017.
  • Business will have lowest online credibility and may lose trust of their future visitors and customers. The brand will have irreparably loss in long term.
  • However, such certificate are available at low price but it will turn into higher cost when attackers steal information from your website.
  • It is also difficult to monitor certificate management like its renewal and expiry. There is no PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) it means there is no online revocation list update.
  • Self-Signed certificates do not have warranty amount which is given by authenticate certificate authorities in case of misissuance of a certificate.

Checking Self-Signed Certificate:

You can check in browser by clicking red cross or use SSL checker tool that will reveal the details of the certificate. For example, In Chrome, you can press F12 >> Click on to view Certificate. In Firefox, you can click on padlock in browser and check the status of a certificate. Even most browsers display warnings of unsafe websites on the page.

Third Party SSL Certificates:

To make your customers worry from Self-Signed certificate warnings, a website owner should think of 3rd party SSL certificates. There are multiple certificate categories like domain validation, organization validation and extended validation certificate.

  • Domain Validation Certificate: Domain Validation certificate is a primary level of certificate that is issued to a single or multiple domain names. It does not require further business related proofs or verification of business authenticity.
  • Organization Validation: Organization Validation is second level of certificate where authenticity of a business needs to be verified with valid legal business proof along with domain validation.
  • Extended Validation: Extended Validation is highest level of authentication and can only be issued to organizations. It helps to boost the image of business across the web as it gets green address bar that shows business name with country code. Visitors when see green bar they gain trust in website legitimacy.

At Glance:

With rising competition and cyber incidents, Ecommerce companies, banking, finance and other online  businesses have to look for legitimate SSL certificate instead of Self-Signed certificate. There is HSTS feature that every website should prefer for secure connection where it declares that servers are allowed to deal with via browsers over HTTPS only and thus helps against downgrad protocol attack and cookie hijacking.

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