Security Certificate

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What Does Security Certificate Mean?

A security certificate is a small data file used as an Internet security technique through which the identity, authenticity and reliability of a website or Web application is established.


A security certificate is used as a means to provide the security level of a website to general visitors, Internet service providers (ISPs) and Web servers.

A security certificate is also known as a digital certificate and as a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate.

Techopedia Explains Security Certificate

A security certificate is allotted to a website or Web application by a third-party certification authority (CA).

Typically, the CA evaluates the security framework of the website requesting the security certificate. Once the security, legitimacy and authenticity of the website are confirmed, a security certificate is provided.

This security certificate is embedded within the website and is provided to Web servers, Web browsers, firewall and security applications, and ISPs when the website is requested.

A security certificate is required to be updated on an annual basis or within a predefined time period.

If a security certificate has expired, a user will see a notification in his browser stating that the security certificate is expired and the user is visiting the website at his own risk.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
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.