What is CA Signed Certificate and How to Get It for a Website?

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what is ca signed certificate

CA Signed Certificate: A Certificate for Holistic Website Security

Any business you do- shopping, browsing online, or banking involves some amount of private data transmission. Without a CA Signed Certificate, the user data might become prone to cybercrime, forgery, and other nefarious activities. Also, all the data that goes into the webform becomes subjected to hackers or criminals sniffing and tampering information between server and browser.

Certification authorities, for this reason, validate organizations and individuals, helping ensure only legitimate or legal websites get a TLS certificate to make the Internet safe. Due to this, today, across the globe, there are multiple certificate authorities available that you can find for validating sites and businesses. So, what does a Signed CA certificate mean after all? Here, we will first discuss what is CA signed certificates are and later get into their practicality:

What is a CA Signed Certificate?

In the world of cryptography, a CA is an entity that is responsible for storing, signing, and issuing CA Signed Certificates to legitimate websites and businesses. A particular digital certificate will award certification for the ownership of a public key by the named subject of a certificate. Thus, the certificate lets the relying parties depend upon a signature made about the private key that correlates to the certified public key. In simple words, CA acts as a trusted third party that both the subject of the certificate and the party relying on the certificate can trust.

Every popular operating system such as Windows, iOS, Android, etc., and web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, etc., automatically trusts a CA-signed certificate as it ensures that the customers can access the website without encountering any security challenges. At the end of the day, no user wants to see the frightening ‘not secure’ warning in the browser while opening a website.

As the certificate provider, CAs happen to be an important and reliable entity of the Internet’s public key infrastructure (PKI). Verifying the reliability and legitimacy of an organization, domain and website is the primary motive of a CA. Therefore, the users have all the necessary details of who they are communicating with over the digital space and whether or not they can trust their private data with the entity.

When a CA certifies a website with a digital CA certificate, the users can stay assured about their connection with a legitimate website and not with any spoofed site made by a hacker to steal money or, worse, data. Because of these certificates, the Internet is a safe place for both users and organizations.

So, this is what a CA signed certificate means. How it works is another important aspect to know about it. Let us dive in:

How does a CA Certificate Work?

In simple words, a digital security certificate is a credential that is responsible for validating the legitimacy of an entity it is issued to. It also encrypts and protects communication over the digital space, ensuring the integrity of the document signed with it while making sure no third party can tamper with the private information amidst the data transmission process.

A digital certificate encompasses all the details about an organization or a website to which the CA issues it. Usually, the details include its name, organization, address, domain name, public key, certificate issue and expiry date, and other important details. Apart from this, it also contains the name of the issuing CA and its digital signature. The digital signature is written proof that a trusted CA has issued the certificate and no other party has modified it.

So now that we know how a CA certificate proves the legitimacy of a website or organization let us shed some light on how to get CA Certificate.

How to Get a CA Certificate?

CA certificates, also popularly known as SSL/TLS certificate authentication, keeps the websites safe, and paves the way for protected and more importantly, encrypted connections. Thus, when the users visit a website and see a padlock icon in the web browser, they know it is a safe space. As SSL/TLS certificates happen to be the crucial aspects of PKI, they need a digital certificate for functioning. This is where the role of CA comes in.

An individual, business, or entity seeking to own an encrypted website can request for a digital certificate. Let us see how:

#Step 1

First, the CA produces a key pair, which consists of the following:

  • Private key, which is always hidden and should never be shown to anyone, not even the CA;
  • Public key, mentioned in the digital certificate issued by CA. The applicant also generates a certificate signing request (CSR). It is an encoded text file containing the certificate’s information. They are:

-domain name;

-additional or alternative domain names, including subdomains;

-organization; and

-contact details, e.g., email address.

The information in the CSR is based on the intended application of the certificate and its level of validation. Both of the above processes usually take place on the server or workstation, where certificates are installed.

Step 2

The applicant forwards a CSR to the CA, which then authenticates the CSR information and the applicant’s identity. After this, CA produces a digital certificate, signs it digitally with its private key and sends the certificate to the applicant.

Step 3

At this point, a web browser can authenticate the digital signature. Alternatively, the browsers can also take the certificate’s help to ensure that a legitimate entity has digitally signed the content that holds the corresponding private key and that the information has not been tampered with since its signature.

These are the three steps that an individual, a website or an organization needs to follow if you want to know how to get a CA Signed Certificate. Every CA charges you a small fee for completing the verification process and then issues a digital certificate.

While CAs take requests from applicants directly, they delegate the task of verifying applicants to registration authorities (RA). The RA collects, verifies all the digital certificate requests, and submits all those requests to the CA. It then issues certificates that pass through the RA and then to the applicant.

So if you want to know how to get a ca signed certificate, here it is. Now let us see where to get a certificate.

Where to Get a CA Certificate?

When you are looking for a certificate authority, you must make multiple considerations. It can be:

  • Customer service
  • Cost trust
  • Brand recognition
  • Available tools

Choosing the right CA you can trust is crucial as all your digital services and products and your end user’s security depend upon the technology. Usually, trusted CAs submit to regular orders by independent parties, maintain best practices, and adhere to the industry guidelines. Apart from this, many CAs are also majorly involved in industry groups and developing industry standards, thus constantly providing websites or businesses with the resources they need to gain users’ trust. There are multiple trusted certificate authorities for you to use. Some of them are:

This was all about CAs and how to get the best of them! Let us now try to understand why websites need a Signed Certificate.

Importance of CA Signed Certificate

We will explain this with an easy example. Imagine that you are a website owner, and your end users are trying to connect to the website. How do the customers know that they are actually on your legitimate website and not on a malicious fake? A Certificate Authority will confirm that you have the rightful owner of the website and the organization is legitimate based on the validation level of the cert you use, thereby helping you establish trust with the customer’s web browser.

When the users try to connect with a website, your server will send its public key with a digital certificate signed by the CA. Once the trust is established with the client through a process known as SSL/TLS handshake, a secure and encrypted connection is made between them. Encrypting the communication line will prevent any third party from intercepting or forging the data amidst the transmission of data between the customers and the server.

As a crucial part of PKI, a CA plays a crucial role. Primarily, the functions of CA includes:

  • Issues digital certificates;
  • Establishes a sense of trust between communicating entities over the digital space;
  • Authenticate domain names and organizations to validate their identities; and
  • Maintains certificate revocation lists.

Regardless of everything, hackers or imposters might still attempt to take advantage of the certificate, so website users should still be familiar with the site trust indicators, including site seals. This is important to know if a website is safe or not. Apart from this, you can also check for identifying information about the certificate owner, like the organization’s name, location, and other details that are usually included in digital certificates.

End Notes of What is CA Signed Certificate

All we talked about is that without third-party entities, your website users would never know for sure whether you are the person you claim to be, or data has been tampered with. Moreover, you would never adhere to all the laws and regulations when it comes to data security and privacy. For this, you can purchase SSL certificate from any trusted certificate authority. All of these regulations encompass the application of certificate authorities, and if you are non-compliant, it leaves you facing a significant noncompliance fine, loss of trust, and potential lawsuits from customers. These things will surely take a heavy toll on your organization’s reputation.

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Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.

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