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When using a basic https:// setting, the data exchanged between the user and the site can be intercepted by unauthorized parties. This creates a security risk and may even lead to identity theft. If you’re an ecommerce site or any other business that relies on private information sharing, then you need to get a SSL/TSL certificate. A third party must vouch for the site if they want to get an SSL certificate. This third party is a certificate authority, or CA, for short. When a site gets a certificate from a trusted CA, it can show a Secure Site Seal from that authority.A user can find the information regarding this certification for a particular website by clicking on the seal.
TLS vs SSL
TLS is the successor to SSL. It is a protocol that ensures privacy between communicating applications. Unless otherwise stated, in this document consider TLS and SSL as interchangable.
The public half of a public/private key pair with some additional metadata about who issued it etc. It may be freely given to anyone.
A private key can verify that its corresponding certificate/public key was used to encrypt data. It is never given out publicly.
Certificate Authority (CA)
A company that issues digital certificates. For SSL/TLS certificates, there are a small number of providers (e.g. Symantec/Versign/Thawte, Comodo, GoDaddy, LetsEncrypt) whose certificates are included by most browsers and Operating Systems. They serve the purpose of a “trusted third party”.
Certificate Signing Request (CSR)
A file generated with a private key. A CSR can be sent to a CA to request to be signed. The CA uses its private key to digitally sign the CSR and create a signed cert. Browsers can then use the CA’s cert to validate the new cert has been approved by the CA.
A specification governing the format and usage of certificates.
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