Digital certificates are a set of tools used for managing the authentication of different users visiting a particular website, where the identity details are recorded. Prior to the advent of digital certificates, in order to make a website accessible to a limited audience and authenticating incoming user traffic, the only way was to allot a unique username and password to the focused customers. Hence, the use of such digital certificates provided a more robust and efficient access control mechanism, along with many other merits over assigning username and password, whose misuse is a serious security loop hole.
Introduction to an https certificate
At present, the entire information exchange and communications taking place on the internet are done on a standard protocol, called as the hyper text transfer protocol (http), which is one of the several types of digital certificates. The http protocol is functional at the highest layer of the Transmission Control Protocols and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) model and is actually a language that defines a format, according to which various web servers and web browsers communicate with each other. The basic http digital certificate is a clear text protocol that manages and transfer data to-and-fro across a particular network, which unfavorably makes them vulnerable to exploitation from unrestricted access.
The lack of privacy in http certificates made way for the arrival of an https certificate, which is nothing but http secure. These types of digital certificates offer enhanced security over http certificates and are ideal for use in the exchange of highly sensitive information, such as online identities, usernames, passwords and debit or credit card numbers, along with confidential corporate business secrets. The fundamental idea behind an security certificate is that they use multiple encryption levels, so as to keep the information transfer as discreet and secure as possible.
In line with the various information encryption methods, the https certificate gives a definition to the use of encryption keys, so as to ensure a smooth and secure data flow between web servers and web browsers in the network. It must be noted that every web server has its own public encryption key that can be made accessible to a particular user, in order to establish a safe and secure web connection.
The digital certificates come into the picture when an end user’s web browser wishes to verify if the public key offered by the web server actually belongs to any individual or organisation, which claims itself to be a genuine source. Further, the websites are deemed secure and genuine, when they display their digital certificate to the visiting user on his/her web browser. These kinds of certificates can be availed from a highly trusted third party, called Certificate Authority (CA). The CA issues a digital certificate that is usually enough for verifying that the website source and ownership is nothing but genuine.