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Digital certificate

(also public key certificate, identity certificate)

Digital certificate definition

A digital certificate is an electronic document or password that proves the authenticity and validity of a device, server, user, website, or software application. Namely, digital certificates use cryptography and the public key infrastructure to help companies and individuals securely share data over the internet. Businesses also use digital certificates to ensure that only authorized and trusted devices and users can connect to their networks and confirm whether a website is authentic.

You can use digital certificates to encrypt internet conversations, data, and websites. Each digital certificate includes the user’s name, company, the internet protocol (IP) address or the serial number of the device, a copy of the public key from the certificate holder, the period during which the certificate is valid, and the domain the certificate represents. Trustworthy certificate authorities can issue and verify digital certificates.

See also: certificate authority server, class A IP address

Types of digital certificates

  • A TLS/SSL certificate. This certificate ensures that the communication between a server and its clients is private, secure, and encrypted.
  • A code signing certificate. Organizations and individuals use this certificate to authenticate the software and files they download online.
  • A client certificate. This is a digital ID that serves to identify an individual user or device to another user or device. These certificates can also enable users to access protected databases.