Certificate Authority

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Certificate Authority

(cryptography, body)
(CA or "Trusted Third Party") An entity (typically a company) that issues digital certificates to other entities (organisations or individuals) to allow them to prove their identity to others. A Certificate Authority might be an external company such as VeriSign that offers digital certificate services or they might be an internal organisation such as a corporate MIS department. The Certificate Authority's chief function is to verify the identity of entities and issue digital certificates attesting to that identity.

The process uses public key cryptography to create a "network of trust". If I want to prove my identity to you, I ask a CA (who you trust to have verified my identity) to encrypt a hash of my signed key with their private key. Then you can use the CA's public key to decrypt the hash and compare it with a hash you calculate yourself. Hashes are used to decrease the amount of data that needs to be transmitted. The hash function must be cryptographically strong, e.g. MD5.

http://home.netscape.com/comprod/server_central/support/faq/certificate_faq.html#11.
References in periodicals archive ?
The digital certificates will be issued by Accredited Certification Authorities, through the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK).
To a consumer, green means they can do business on-line with confidence because the web site address displayed in the browser address bar has been rigorously verified by one of the leading certification authorities.
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Microsoft Corporation, the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing, has selected WebTrust for Certification Authorities or its equivalent as part of its program for accepting Certification Authorities (CAs) wishing to distribute their root certificate through Microsoft software.
EV SSL certificates provide a uniform identity validation standard for all certification authorities so consumers will be able to make reliable risk assessment decisions about the authenticity of the Web sites with which they conduct online transactions.
May 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Cybertrust(R), the global information security specialist, today announced that the WebTrust(R) audit for its Certification Authority (CA) services was successfully completed and has earned the AICPA/CICA WebTrust Certification Authorities Seal.

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