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Digital Certificate
SSL enables two computers to communicate securely by posting a digital certificate for
authentication. A digital certificate is a form of an asymmetric key that also contains
information about the certificate, the holder of the certificate, and the issuer of the cer-
tificate. The contents of a digital certificate include the following:
The public key
Effective date of the certificate
Expiration date of the certificate
Details about the certificate authority—the issuer of the certificate
Details about the certificate holder
A digest of the certificate content
VeriSign ( is a well-known certificate authority (CA). A recent ver-
sion of its certificate is shown in Figure 12.5.
Figure 12.5
VeriSign digital
To obtain a certificate, you request a certificate from a certificate authority and pay the
application fee. The certificate authority verifies your identity, issues your certificate,
and supplies you with a public/private key pair. You store the certificate in your
software—such as a Web server, Web browser, or e-mail application. The certificate
authority makes your certificate publicly known.
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