Certificate Authority Companies: Everything You Need To Know

Certificate authority companies issue digital authentication certifications, which are used to verify online credentials of individuals, devices, and websites.3 min read

Certificate authority companies issue digital authentication certifications, which are used to verify the online credentials of individuals, devices, and websites. The millions of digital authentication certifications issued every year help maintain the safety and privacy of internet users by encrypting and securing transactions and private information.

Types of Digital Certificates

With an SSL certificate, cryptographic keys are assigned to a website and the server that owns the site. These keys create a secure session with the server when you access the website using your browser. A valid SSL certificate must contain the website's domain name and be both current and issued by a trusted certificate authority company. Your browser will alert you of issues with a site's SSL certificate. Types of SSL certificates include:

  • A domain validation (DV) certificate, which proves that your web domain is legitimate.
  • Wildcard certificates cover an entire website, including all subdomains.
  • Extended validation (EV) certificates identify both the domain and the business or organization. This is designated by the green address bar in the user's web browser.
  • Unified communications (UC) certificates encrypt emails and other communications for multiple domains.
  • Subject alternative name (SAN) certificates include both your domain and closely related domains.
  • Organization validation (OV) certificates verify both the domain and business identity, but do not include the green address bar that characterizes an EV certificate.

In addition to SSL, other types of encryption you may encounter include the digital signature algorithm, which is a government encryption standard; Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, which is the most common encryption type; and elliptical curve cryptography, which provides encryption at the most powerful level.

Trusted Certificate Authority Companies

Certificate authority companies are governed by membership programs that establish criteria they must meet to offer encryption services. The longer a company has been operating, the more devices and browsers that will support their certificates. Backward compatibility with older mobile devices and browsers is also essential.

These websites have been vetted as providing trustworthy SSL and security certificates.

  • GeoTrust offers simple 256-bit web encryption starting at $149 with maximum security available with a customer guarantee for $299. All packages can be upgraded with a warranty and expert tech support.
  • Comodo's SSL certificates are appropriate for everyone from e-commerce sites to freelancers with a home office. They offer 256-bit encryption, unlimited service licenses, warranty up to $250,000, and expert phone support. Packages start at just $64.95 and tap out at $359. Comodo is considered one of the most trustworthy certificate authorities in the world.