Definition: Certificates are electronic attachments issue by a CA (Authorities) that are used to facilitate authentication and information assurance. The verification data issued by a CA is based upon the public key infrastructure. The record or document is normally referred to as a digital signature and it is frequently based on an established protocol known as X.509. The protocol supports the SSL (or Secure Socket Layer). The receiver of a message can verify the identity of the sender and in turn encrypt and send a response back to the sender. There are a number of CAs that are well known, such as VeriSign and Entrust.

Its Relevance: The public key infrastructure is essential to the free flow of electronic commerce. You must utilize one form of encrypted and authenticated communication methods to be able to participate.

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