What is a Digital Certificate? How to Buy Website Security

If you are searching for a digital certificate that would help your website be at the best of its performance, then you have to know the available options and its benefits that would increase customer security and safety. After learning of it, that would be the time to decide on which would be more effective for your particular needs.

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What is a Digital Certificate?

Digital Certificates, as defined by Microsoft support, assures that the public key being used in the certificate belongs to the rightful owner of the certificate as it is confirmed via information being included in the electronic credentials.

The companies that issue these certificates are called Certificate Authorities or CA. Aside from issuing digital certificates to applying online businesses; they also authenticate the genuineness of these certificates and sign them for verification. Certificate Authorities establish the identity of the individual or the business, depending on the level of security being demanded by the certificate that has been issued. Details are included of the following:

  • The CA verifies the information of the person or organization applying for the certificate by matching the details of their domain application as found in the WHOIS database to see if it actually exists.
  • CAs also checks if the business actually exists in the real world by checking on the physical entity of the company, the location, and that the addresses included are accurate.
  • Companies who wish to process extended validation for their certificates will need to bring out more details, such as the official business registration within a particular area. This involves government entities such as the office of the Secretary of the State, where the domain must be registered through an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) registrar for generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). A representative from Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) also authorizes registration for country code top-level domain (CCTLDs) and it should minimize privacy for customers. Phone numbers are also verified.

This verification process is very vital for the assurance that business applying for certificates is genuine. Otherwise, there may be people that would abuse their rights and cause fraudulent acts, such as what happened for Comodo in March 2011. Although the certificates were cancelled quickly, possible data damages could be high. Comodo had to fortify their policies to avoid the same mistake from happening.

What are the specific types of Digital Certificates?

According to Microsoft Support, there are four types of digital certificates:

  1. Personal Certificates: These are digital certificates that authenticate and validate the existence of users in a server, and securing emails with the use of the S-MIME system or Secure – Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. It optimizes message encryption utilizing the public key, as being adapted by the RSA Data Security, Inc.
  2. Server Certificates: These certificates are used by servers to confirm the identity of another server with the use of a certificate type, known as SLCertificates.
  3. Software Publisher Certificates: This is applied to software publishers that need to be authenticated if they belong to the group of publishers that distribute the particular software. This is also used by CAs to confirm if they have been identified previously. Since rights are included, the verification process does not list particular codes about the software. Rather, the CAs keeps a list to validate their existence.
  4. Certificate Authority Certificates: Root Certificates are being issued by Root Certificate Authorities that can validate themselves as being the issuer and the subject of the validation at the same time. These authorities can also process certificates for Immediate CAs, that can authorize authentication for authorities of the same level, even those who owns personal, server, and software publisher certificates.

This term is also used for those who own personal certificates, particularly those who have been issued of such rights to safely send emails. According to Webopedia, a digital certificate is used in an email to verify that the person is real and validated as a true, and also encrypting the messages being sent from the sender to the receiver. It had nothing to do with certificate types but was more particular with emails.

Aside from this definition, VeriSign also understands that digital certificates are those certificates being used to send and receive emails using the S-MIME system, where a “Digital ID” is being used for identification and authorization. However, others even think that Digital IDs are those created with particular software for signing data and confirming the existence of users using such information being entered into forms and others.


What is a Digital Certificate? How to Buy Website Security

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