SSL Certification - Simple Question

Can someone explain the difference between a custom SSL certificate purchased outside of Webflow and the certificate provided by Webflow? We currently have a custom SSL on hand for our live site (hosted internally), but I’m unsure if we need it once we publish our website(s) in Weblfow. I do not want to upgrade to the Enterprise Plan as it is out of our budget.

I have reached out to Sales (slow to respond), support, and attempted to research this topic outside of Webflow. I cannot seem to find any helpful answers.

Functionally, not much. For a basic website, it doesn’t impact the user experience. If someone views the certificate however, it can be nice to have your own organizational branding particularly for large organizations.

For example, here’s the Organization on the cert.
With Webflow-generated certs you would not see your own org name.


But I like questions like this, to be more complete I tossed it at GPT to see what range of use cases it would come up with.

GPT4’s response-

Using a custom SSL certificate instead of the one provided by Webflow, which typically comes from a recognized third-party Certificate Authority (CA), might be preferred or necessary in several specific scenarios. Here are some reasons why you might opt for your own SSL certificate:

1. Branding and Trust:

  • Some organizations prefer to use Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates because they display the company’s name in the browser’s address bar, offering a higher level of verification and potentially increasing user trust. Although the importance and visibility of EV certificates have diminished in some browsers, certain businesses might still prefer them for branding reasons.

2. Unified Security Policy:

  • Large organizations often have strict security policies requiring all web properties to use certificates from a specific CA or certificates with particular security features. This ensures uniform compliance with internal security standards and simplifies certificate management.

3. Wildcard and Multi-Domain SSL Certificates:

  • If you’re managing multiple subdomains or different domains that need to be secured, a wildcard or multi-domain (SAN) SSL certificate allows you to secure them with a single certificate. While Webflow’s automatic SSL might cover the primary domain and some subdomains, your specific setup might require a more flexible or comprehensive solution.

4. Advanced Security Features:

  • Some organizations might require SSL certificates with advanced features, such as stronger encryption algorithms or additional security layers. In such cases, obtaining a certificate that meets these criteria from an external provider and installing it manually on Webflow could be necessary.

5. Regulatory Compliance:

  • Certain industries are subject to strict regulatory requirements regarding data protection and privacy. These regulations might specify the use of SSL certificates with specific characteristics or from certain CAs. Custom certificates can help ensure compliance.

6. Certificate Transparency and Monitoring:

  • Organizations might use custom certificates along with tools or services that offer enhanced monitoring, alerting for certificate expiration, misconfiguration, or compliance issues, and more detailed insights into the security of their web presence.

7. Control Over Certificate Lifecycle:

  • Managing your own SSL certificates gives you control over the entire lifecycle, including issuance, renewal, and revocation. This can be crucial for organizations that need to quickly respond to security threats or update their certificates.

When Not Necessary

For most users and small to medium-sized businesses, the SSL certificate provided by Webflow (or similar platforms) through a recognized CA is sufficient to secure their site and protect user data. The need for a custom SSL certificate arises mainly from specific business, branding, security, or regulatory requirements that go beyond the standard offering.

Before deciding to use a custom SSL certificate with Webflow, consider the management overhead, including renewal and potential downtime if the certificate expires or is misconfigured. For many, the simplicity and reliability of Webflow’s managed SSL service will be the preferable option.

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