A digital certificate is an electronic document issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) that uses cryptography to link ownership of a public key to an entity.
What is a Digital Certificate?
A digital certificate is an electronic document issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) that uses cryptography to link ownership of a public key to an entity. Digital certificates are used to verify that the public key does in fact belong to the designated entity, and is securely encrypted, whether that be a website, an individual, organization, device, or server.
The secure nature of digital certificates help verify the identity of a user, device, server, website, or entity within an exchange and enables involved parties to send/receive information securely. They are also tamper-resistant, can be traced back to the issuer, contain the IP address or serial number of a device, have an expiration date, and are presented to someone for validation of something.
Digital certificates work through Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), meaning that they utilize key pairs consisting of one private key and one public key. These are used to encrypt and decrypt and verify authenticity among the involved parties.
Because digital certificates bind an individual to a public key, ensuring reliability and authenticity, it is crucial that they are issued by a trusted authority.