In many organizations, the use of self-signed certificates is forbidden by the policies. Organization bans self-signed certificates for several reasons:
- It is very easy to create certificate key pairs without any reasonable entropy.
- Poorly evaluate the certificate when used.
- Misuse of the self-signed certificates.
However, there are a few circumstances when self-signed certificates can be helpful if there are controlled conditions.
Over the years, there has been an inherent misunderstanding that a self signed certificate in certificate chain has good relation with bad security. In this article, we will explain to expand your understanding of the certificate use.
What Is A Self-Signed Certificate?
A self-signed certificate is a certificate that is not recognized by any public trusted certificate authority. This can include SSL, TSL, Code signing certificates, and MIME certificates. These certificates are different from the traditional certificates in the market because they are created, issued, and signed by the company itself.
As the company owners generate self-signed certificates, they are considered unsafe for public websites and platforms. Most commonly, self-signed certificates are called self-signed SSL certificates.
The SSL security is guardians that secure your site from any harmful cyber attacks. This digital entity secures your information in the following ways.
Encryption: SSL security transit data with the help of secure socket layer technology. That means the communication between you and your website is private.
Authentication: SSL certificates authenticate the website to ensure you have reached out to the right organizations.
Why Is A Self-Signed Certificate Not Trusted?
In the public key infrastructure, the certificate authority must be trusted by both parties to move forward with the deal. If one party is not happy with the certificate authority, they might not do business with you.
In order to gain trust, there are certain guidelines every Certificate authority must follow. The downside of the self-signed certificate is that the CA/B does not monitor it, and hence, there might be many loopholes that hackers might exploit.
For instance, the tenure of any self-signed certificate is one year. But here, the validity doesn’t matter because the user can create as many self-signed certificates.
What Are The Risks Associated With Self-Signed Certificates?
Many organizations are driven to use self-signed certificates over certificates authorized by the trusted certified authority. The reason for that is the difference in the cost of the certificates.
Unlike CA’s issued certificate that comes with a price tag, self-signed certificates are free of cost. While you think that using self-signed certificates is the best way to save money, you are paying more just to have the self-signed certificates.
Self-signed certificates are welcome by most websites. They prompt web servers to initiate security alerts. Often the security alter asks the user to abort the action.
Risk Of Using Self-Signed Certificate On Public Site
If you are using a self-signed certificate, it warns the potential customers that tried visiting your website and move away because of the alert. The clients might feel that your website is not secure, and doing business with you might result in data breaches.
Risk Of Using Self-Signed Certificate On Internal Sites
While the risk of using self-signed certificates on the public site is obvious, the risk associated with the internal sites share the same fate. Self-signed certificates on your internal sires still result in browser warnings.
Organizations ask their employees to ignore the warnings that the site is safe. But this kind of practice encourages dangerous behaviors that invite data breaches.
Avoid The Risk
Logically there is no harm in using self-signed certificates. However, if you want to survive in the certificate chain and want your site to be accepted by the other servers, going with the certificate produced by a public trusted certificate authority is a safe bet.