Digital Certificates are a means by which consumers and businesses can utilize the security applications of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). PKI comprises of the technology to enables secure e-commerce and Internet based communication.
Why is security needed on the Internet?
We are now experiencing the information age. The number of people and businesses online is continuing to increase at an unprecedented rate. As access becomes faster and cheaper such people will spend even more time connected to the Internet for personal communication and business transactions.
However, the Internet is an open communications network. Anybody can use the Internet, and consequently anyone can exploit its vulnerabilities for fraudulent gain. If the Internet is to succeed as a business and communications tool it requires the fundamentals of security.
What does security provide?
Identification / Authentication:
The persons / entities with whom we are communicating are really who they say they are.
The information within the message or transaction is kept confidential. It may only be read and understood by the intended sender and receiver.
The information within the message or transaction is not tampered accidentally or deliberately with en route without all parties involved being aware of the tampering.
The sender cannot deny sending the message or transaction, and the receiver cannot deny receiving it.
Access to the protected information is only realized by the intended person or entity.
All the above security properties can be achieved and implemented through the use of Public Key Infrastructure (in particular Digital Certificates).