Having an SSL certificate on your website can bring you multiple benefits. One of the main perks that you will gain when you obtain an SSL certificate is that all information will be encrypted. In other words, only your website and the site visitors will have access to the data that is transmitted. No other person will be able to decipher the information that is exchanged.
This high level of protection is achieved by using hash functions to encrypt all data. SHA-1 and SHA-256 are two of the most popular hash functions. In this article, we will look at the differences between SHA-1 and SHA-256 and also explain how you can upgrade your SSL certificate from SHA-1 to SHA-256.
What Are SHA-1 and SHA-256?
SHA-1 and SHA-256 are known as cryptographic hash functions, complex mathematical algorithms that can be run against any type of content such as text, images, video, etc. SHA-256 is the successor of SHA-1. The creation of SHA-256 was necessitated because flaws were found in SHA-1 that weakened its cryptographic strength.
Each SSL certificate can use only one cryptographic function at a time. So if your installed SSL certificate is a couple of years old, it may have been issued using the now-defunct SHA-1 hashing algorithm.
Is My SSL Certificate Using SHA-1 or SHA-256?
You can check whether your SSL certificate is using the SHA-1 or SHA-256 hashing algorithm by running an SSL test on your domain name. There are multiple free online SSL checkers and most of them should be able to list the type of hashing algorithm that is used.
If you do not have a preferred SSL checker in mind, you can use the SSL Server Test by Qualys. Just click on the link, enter your domain name, wait a minute for the SSL test to run, and then view the available information.