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Security certificate

(also SSL certificate, digital certificate, website security certificate, HTTPS certificate)

Security certificate definition

A security certificate is a small data file used to confirm the authenticity, identity, and reliability of a website or web application. The file contains verified information about the company and the domain.

A security certificate provides the website’s security level to visitors, ISPs (internet service providers), and web servers. Other names for a security certificate include SSL certificate, digital certificate, and HTTPS certificate. Third-party certificate authorities (CAs) issue security certificates to websites after verifying that the website belongs to the correct organization.

Common security certificates

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates
  • Transport Layer Security (TSL) certificates
  • SSL server certificates
  • Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) certificates

Benefits of security certificates

  • Website authentication and increased trust. Security certifications show the users that a website is trustworthy, authentic, and secure. However, since most phishing websites use SSL certificates, too, it’s recommended to do a bit of research before accessing an unknown website.
  • Increased security through encryption. Website security certificates use encryption to prevent malicious actors from intercepting messages. Encryption ensures no hacker can access the information stored on the website or make unauthorized changes to your data.
  • Improved search rankings. While security certificates don’t boost website rankings dramatically, search engines reward website security. For example, Google has included HTTPS as a lightweight parameter during a keyword search: if two websites have the same parameters, the one with a security certificate will rank higher.