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The Hidden Costs of Choosing the Wrong Certificate Authority

The Hidden Costs of Choosing the Wrong Certificate Authority

Certificate Authorities (CAs) play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining online trust between users and entities. Verifying your identity online can open new opportunities for your organisation, help you meet compliance requirements, establish credibility, and earn your customers’ trust.

However, choosing the wrong Certificate Authority can lead to you missing out on many of these benefits. Not to mention, it can cause unwanted implications for your organisation that include security risks, reputational damage, and revenue losses.

This blog uncovers the obvious and hidden costs of picking the wrong Certificate Authority.

The Obvious Costs

Partnering with the wrong Certificate Authority can damage your organisation’s credibility and cost you money and time.


A poorly chosen Certificate Authority can cost your business money in two ways: the certificate purchase cost, and the revocation and replacement cost.

CAs charge your organisation for issuing identity certificates. If you partner with an unsuitable Certificate Authority, you’ve already lost money when you start thinking about switching to a different authority.

Not to mention, earning your certificate from an untrustworthy authority can make clients more sceptical of doing business with you, resulting in missed opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that some CAs can charge you hefty costs for revoking or replacing a certificate.


Applying for and getting a certificate from the wrong CA can be a lengthy process. This could disrupt your processes or delay your website launch. Some CAs also take a long time to renew your certificate, which steers away traffic from your website for extended periods.

Once you realise you’re working with the wrong CA, jumping ships will cost you even more time.


Choosing an untrustworthy or insecure CA could jeopardise the security of your online transactions and communications, which might lead to severe reputational damage if customers' sensitive information gets compromised.

Further, root certificates from untrustworthy CAs might not be recognised by major browsers, triggering security warnings and causing visitors to distrust your site.


The Hidden Costs

Other than the obvious costs of choosing the wrong Certificate Authority, there are unforeseen costs that could lead to severe consequences for your business. These include:

1. Security Vulnerabilities

While all CAs that issue digital certificates go through security audits, that doesn’t change the fact that not all of them are equally secure.

The best indicator of a CA’s security posture is its breach history – was the CA ever targeted by cybercriminals or identity thieves? How did the CA respond? Did any of the attacks come to light? How many of them were successful?

These questions should help you decide if a CA is trustworthy in terms of security. Partnering with a CA that doesn’t take security seriously enough automatically means that your organisation may be exposed to more security vulnerabilities, making the possibility of an attack more likely.

2. Compliance Issues

Partnering with the wrong Certification Authority can result in significant compliance issues.

Regulatory and compliance standards like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS are crucial for maintaining data security and privacy. If a cCertification aAuthority doesn't meet these standards, partnering with them could lead to non-compliance. This could result in fines and penalties for both your organisation and your clients.

What’s more, choosing a Certification Authority that doesn't comply with important standards increases the risk of data breaches. For instance, if you deal with sensitive customer data and partner with a non-compliant CA, it could compromise the security of that data, leading to breaches and potential legal consequences.

Further, compliant Certification Authorities are more attractive to reputable businesses seeking to protect their online communications and transactions. By partnering with a non-compliant CA, you might lose opportunities to collaborate with these reputable entities. 

3. Poor Customer Support

Partnering with the wrong Certificate Authority (CA) means that you won't likely get the level of customer support that you’d expect, affecting your ability to resolve issues efficiently and promptly.

For example, If the CA's support team isn't available around the clock, it could pose problems, especially for businesses operating in different time zones or those with urgent technical issues.

While AI chatbots and knowledge bases outside business hours are OK for routine queries, they should not obstruct your access to speaking with a live agent when necessary.

Moreover, the lack of technically fluent agents can result in inadequate assistance for complex issues.

If the support staff is only equipped to handle basic queries related to accounts or billing, you could struggle to get help with intricate technical challenges related to certificates, encryption, or security vulnerabilities.

It’s also worth mentioning that lesser-known CAs typically only offer email support, which could lead to delayed responses.

4. Limited Scalability

The choice of a Certificate Authority (CA) plays a pivotal role in scalability when it comes to certificate management for a company.

Here's how:

  • Limited integration and compatibility: Not all CAs seamlessly integrate with scalable certificate management platforms. Choosing a CA that lacks compatibility might restrict the ability to centralise certificate management. This can lead to a fragmented system where certificates from different CAs need separate management processes, hindering scalability.

  • Manual processes: Some CAs may not provide comprehensive tools or APIs that allow for efficient management of certificates at scale. If the chosen CA lacks automation features or does not support streamlined processes for revocation, renewal, or cancellation within the management platform, it can hinder scalability. Manual interventions for each certificate would slow down operations and limit the ability to handle high volumes efficiently.

  • Scalability of issuance and billing: A wrong choice of CA might not offer scalable issuance capabilities or centralised billing management. This can result in administrative overheads when handling a large number of certificates, making it challenging to automate issuance, track usage, or manage billing efficiently. It might also restrict the ability to adapt quickly to changing certificate needs.

  • Complexity in certificate lifecycle management: Choosing a CA without a comprehensive Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) system can hinder scalability. An effective CLM system simplifies the complexity of managing a vast number of certificates, making it easier to handle tasks like digital signing, encryption, and authentication. The lack of these features might overload administrative resources, limiting scalability.

  • Dependency on multiple platforms: Opting for CAs that don’t integrate well with a scalable digital certificate management platform might result in using multiple disparate systems for managing certificates. This creates complexities, increases the chance of errors, and limits the scalability of the overall system.

5. Reputational Damage

Partnering with the wrong Certificate Authority (CA) can damage your organisation’s reputation, particularly due to security issues and lack of trust.

Because of the pivotal role CAs play in issuing digital certificates and ensuring encrypted and secure communication between users and websites, choosing an unreliable or compromised CA can lead to negative outcomes for your company.

Untrustworthy CAs might issue certificates improperly or to malicious entities, enabling cyber attackers to create fake websites or perform Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks. Users might unknowingly submit sensitive information to these fake websites, damaging your organisation’s trust.

Further, if the CA suffers a security breach or doesn’t adhere to stringent security protocols, it could expose sensitive data, undermining customers' trust in the security measures implemented by your organisation.

Associating your business with a disreputable CA could signal a lack of commitment to security, impacting its overall credibility and leading to financial losses and customer churn.

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