The SSL/TLS certificate allowed by the SNI (Server name indication) helps to bind the website with a shared IP (Internet protocol) address. It is very rare that you might come across some terms like SNI SSL and IP SSL or some websites that inform you about the differences between SNI SSL vs IP SSL. When SSL/TLS certificates were new then at that time these terms were used and trending for increasing the popularity. Everyone gets confused while choosing the right and best SSL/TLS certificate. This is because a variety of certificates are present in the market.
Organization Validated (OV) was the only type of SSL certificate when this certificate was launched. In the early or initial days of the SSL certificate, it was a rule that the websites which deal with user’s sensitive information needed an SSL certificate and it is compulsory for them to install the certificate. Most of these websites were Legit businesses. At that time, it was not a big deal to issue the OV SSL certificate for these websites. The first Certificate Authority (CA) named Thawte started to issue the SSL certificate at the global level and to the international domains.
Another important reason because of only OV SSL certificate issues was IP address. OV SSL certificate has the capacity for securing the IP addresses. In the present time, it is not a big deal but earlier it was difficult to secure an IP address and every CA want to keep it hidden because for running any website a unique IP address is required. The same IP address can keep multiple websites in the shared hosting and in this case SSL was not considered.
In 2003, Server Name Indication (SNI) came into existence that shows an extension to TLS. In the starting, SSL was considered as the protocol for securing HTTP connections or websites but after that problems started and vulnerabilities occur in a short period of time. The last version of SSL was updated to 3.0 and named Transport Layer Security (TLS).
The difference between SSL and TLS occurs at the time of connections. The connection of SSL is directly formed via port 443 whereas starting of TLS occurs with a hello via an insecure channel which will further move to port 443. This will be followed by a successful handshake. TLS and SSL serve the same function but then also they have a little difference.
An extension of the secure TLS protocol is considered a Server Name Indication (SNI) certificate. During the handshake process of TLS, most of the modern web browsers are enabled by the SNI so that hostnames which clients are trying to connect can be indicated properly. For establishing an HTTPS connection, the host headers need to enable the server so that website’s certificate chain can understand the working. It is because of SNI that websites that are hosted with the same IP address and port can have different SSL certificates.
The certificate which is installed on a particular domain that hosted a dedicated IP address is called an Internet Protocol (IP) SSL certificate. The website is attached to this certificate by using a unique IP address. Hence, one SSL certificate can be installed for one website on one dedicated IP address.
SNI SSL certificates are used by Cloud-based services providers. Some of the services include website builders, content distribution networks (CDNs), e-commerce platforms, or any service provider that supplies a common platform for most of the websites.
Anyone who hosted a website can use IP SSL certificates on a dedicated server along with a unique IP address.
The SNI SSL certificate is compatible with various versions such as IE 7+, Mozilla Firefox 2.0+, Opera 8.0+, Chrome 5.0.342.1+, Safari 3.0+, Mobile Safari for iOS 4 and later, and Windows 7+ for iPhone.
The compatibility of IP SSL certificates is for all the major browser and operating systems.
The prices of SNI SSL certificates will only display after request. The customization of the SNI SSL certificate is done by the CAs based on the requesting organization’s requirements.
The prices of IP SSL certificates will be based on the IP address and types of certificates that the owner chooses.
|SNI SSL Certificates||IP SSL Certificates|
|There is a direct link between SNI SSL certificates and hostnames.||There is a direct link between unique IP addresses and IP SSL certificates.|
|The usage of SNI SSL certificate can be done with shared servers and dedicated servers both.||The usage of IP SSL certificates can be done only with shared servers in which any website is assigned to a dedicated IP address.|
|The compatibility of the SNI SSL certificate might not match with legacy browsers or systems.||For encrypting the connection, an IP SSL certificate is considered as an old method and it can be used for the old system that is not supported by the SNI.|
It is not usual to discuss SNI SSL and IP SSL certificates. But there is no need to worry because these terms are quite popular in the earlier days. Every latest browser is aware of these certificates. You will never come across any possibility where compatibility issues of SNI do not occur with the currently installed browser. At present time, every website required an SSL certificate for securing and protecting the information.