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What do you need to know about digital certificates?

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digital certificate
digital certificate

Web security has become increasingly important for both people and businesses alike. Few people though know what they are and what they offer you. You may have heard that they are used online or on internal networks. The likely situation is that you have used them without knowing. It can be easy to deduce that they have something to do with securing communications and restricting access but how do you know if they are worth it? They are very expensive, and it is important that you are managing certificates deployed. Here is a little advice on digital certificates and what they can do for you.

What is a digital certificate? 

To keep it simple a digital certificate or an identity certificate, or a public key certificate is an electronic document or password that can help you prove that a username or device is authentic. Primarily, it is used to separate restricted users from trusted devices and thus only allows for access to a network or browser for those who are authorized. It is important to note though that these certificates are only a small part of cybersecurity. You definitely need more than these.

Different types

Digital certificates come in a variety of forms, and it is useful to know each one. Here are a few of the most common:

TSL/SSL 

These are most easily identified on websites that use a URL or a HTTPS designation. This certificate is used to encrypt and protect communications mostly. You will most likely find them on websites that deal in emails or use emails in their business model. It functions really simply. This certificate allows you to exchange messages as long as the validation process is passed.

TLS/SSL 

This digital certificate uses both TLS and SSL to make sure that communications of servers to client devices remain secure. It does this by prompting the server to reveal a digital certificate to the client. Usually, this results in a certification path validation process. As long as this is passed then the client can continue onto your server. It should be noted that the host must always be identified through a ‘common name’.

Code signing 

This is most common for software developers. Code signing certificates are used to sign a piece of software to prove that it is genuine. Users who download the software can verify its authenticity of it before downloading and installing it onto their systems. This prevents any scams from taking place or malware from developing.

What information should they contain? 

You need to make sure that your digital certificate has these specific pieces of information:

Serial number

This is a unique identifier for your certificate.

Subject

The subject line will always need to indicate who owns the certificate. It allows you to see who is accountable for it.

Issuer

This reveals who is responsible for signing and verifying the certificate.

Digital certificates

Despite being used by most people around the world, the digital certificate remains a mystery to many. The important thing to know is that it provides you with a little bit of security and all websites should have them to reassure your customers that you are trustworthy.

 

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