Certificate Authority

What Does Certificate Authority Mean?

A certificate authority (CA) is a trusted entity that manages and issues security certificates and public keys that are used for secure communication in a public network. The CA is part of the public key infrastructure (PKI) along with the registration authority (RA) who verifies the information provided by a requester of a digital certificate. If the information is verified as correct, the certificate authority can then issue a certificate.


Techopedia Explains Certificate Authority

Certificate authorities are trusted third-party entities who provide digital certificates to organizations that have the need to ensure that their users are provided with secure authentication and connection. Certificates given by CAs build trust between the users and the providers because they can ensure the validity of each other’s identities and authorities.

CAs provide the most basic security and business process principles in a public key infrastructure by creating trust relationships between enterprise and entities. Defined trust can be used to enable certain types of connections while limiting others, including:

  • Applying consistent issuance policies for certificates
  • Applying consistent formatting for names in issued certificates
  • Preventing issued certificates from being used in some applications
  • Preventing implementation of certain unauthorized subordinate CAs

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.