Glossary

Certificate Authority

A Certificate Authority is a trusted provider of digital security certificates that allows for the trusted transmission and receipt of data over networks or the public internet.

Terms related to Certificate Authority: Digital certificate, Secure Socket Layer (SSL), Transport Layer Security (TLS), public keys, cryptography, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

Certificate authorities provide digital certificates. These digital certificates are specialized data files that connect entities with “public keys” using encrypted information. Public keys are part of cryptography and allow for the encryption and decryption of secure information, together with validating the sender and recipient of information.

One example of a digital certificate is SSL (Secure Socket Layer) — these are used by web servers and web browsers to safely encrypt information between a browser and a web server. Even if the traffic is intercepted, it cannot easily be decrypted without the relevant SSL information or public key data. SSL certificates work alongside the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol over SSL or HTTP Secure) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) to transmit and receive information.

When an organization or individual requires an SSL certificate, they can request one from a certificate authority. The authority will then verify the requestor’s identity and will create a digital certificate for the applicant. They will then digitally sign that certificate with a private key. Once the SSL Certificate is installed on a web server, a web browser can authenticate and secure data transmission using the certificate authority’s public key.

Certificate Authority Resources from Crossmatch