Definition: A digital certificate is a security mechanism that is used to assure the identity of participants in electronic communications. The process involves what is known as PKI or public key infrastructure. The method usually involves a third party or element in the verification process. The verification process makes electronic commerce much more secure than it would ordinarily be. There is a standard protocol for the process relating to the concept (X.509). The technology, in fact, has helped make electronic commerce possible. These electronic credentials specify content ranging from a serial number to an expiration date and more, including an unique mathematical formula known as a "hash".
Its Relevance: A solid means of identifying the sender and receiver of electronic messages is crucial to conducting business and commerce over the Internet. Organizations must address the practice or be without a major component of information assurance. Failing to use the technology can prove to be a serious mistake and infrastructure owners could find themselves as having failed to comply with privacy laws.