You can add two different types of certificates in your DreamHost panel:
- Free 'Let's Encrypt' certificate
- Paid Sectigo certificate
The differences between these are described below.
Free Let's Encrypt SSL certificates
Let's Encrypt is a Certificate Authority (CA) that offers FREE SSL certificates. This project was pioneered to make encrypted connections the default standard throughout the Internet.
Although these certificates are just as secure as current paid certificates, they should only be used by smaller sites that do not exchange sensitive information. This would include:
- personal sites
This is because these certificates lack the organization's information, meaning visitors are unable to validate the certificate by viewing it. Additionally, these are potentially vulnerable to phishing attacks. For example, a malicious user could create a similar site with a certificate to create a forged copy of your online store. For these reasons, these are not recommended for eCommerce sites that process payment information.
View the following articles for further information:
Paid Professionally-signed certificate ($15/year)
Any Comodo certificate issued after January 2019 references Sectigo as the certificate authority, while any certificate issued prior to this date references Comodo. Both names refer to the same company.
These types of certificates validate everything a 'Let's Encrypt' certificate does while also validating additional organizational information about who is purchasing the certificate, such as their Name, City, State, and Country. The organization's name is also included in the certificate, adding an additional layer of trust to visitors so they can ensure the website and company are reputable.
If you have a customer-facing site or, more importantly, a site that handles sensitive information such as passwords and credit card data (like an eCommerce site), a paid Sectigo certificate is highly recommended. If you’d like to purchase a professionally-signed certificate, view the following article:
What type of certificate should I use for my eCommerce site?
You can use either a 'Let's Encrypt' or professionally-signed 'Sectigo' certificate for your eCommerce website since they both use the same level of encryption.
The only difference is that a paid 'Sectigo' certificate includes the organization's information. This additional validation can appear more trusting to customers, which is why this type is recommended for eCommerce sites.
A Unique IP address is NOT required to use an SSL certificate. However, if you plan to use an eCommerce application, it's strongly recommended that you add a Unique IP address to provide maximum compatibility with older Internet browsers.
For more information about Unique IP addresses (including instructions for adding one to your domain), take a look at the Unique IP article.