The digital certificate includes many different aspects! Also known as an electronic certificate or public key certificate, a digital certificate allows the identification and authentication of an individual or organization through a digital technology that guarantees its identity. In addition to this main purpose, it also has functions such as the encryption of exchanges, secure online electronic signature, or the securing of a web page.
Through the increasing digitalization of companies as well as individuals, the digital certificate has become more and more important over the years.
Would you like to know more about the digital certificate? Find out when and why to use it.
What are the different types of digital certificates?
There are many forms of digital certificates. Here is a summary of the different types of digital certificates and their most common uses.
SSL Certificate/TLS Certificate
Also known as SSL certificate referring to the previous version of the protocol, the TLS (or SSL/TLS) certificate allows the security of a website through the HTTPS protocol. By encrypting the data, the SSL certificate acts as a key that, once activated, guarantees the security of the connection on the Internet between the user and the site concerned.
Within the SSL/TLS certification itself, there are several degrees of security. There are three levels, each offering a more or less secure certification:
- The Domain Validated SSL Certificate: this is the first level of security of the three possible. It allows the owner of a website to switch the latter to HTTPS, a protocol that became mandatory in 2017. The SSL/TLS certificate, or DV SSL certificate, only requires the applicant to own the specific domain name. It can be obtained relatively easily by simply confirming your email address through a link sent by the Certification Authority (CA).
- The Organization Validation SSL Certificate: the second level of certification offered as part of the SSL/TLS certificate, it requires more prerequisites than the DV SSL certificate. The TLS OV certificate requests confirmation of ownership from the requesting company. In order to authenticate and confirm the identity of the applicant, the Certification Authority uses the platforms dedicated to companies to contact the owner. This verification, once requested, is then carried out
- The Extended Validation SSL Certificate: it represents the ultimate level of security offered within the SSL certificate. With an EV SSL/TLS certificate, the verifications carried out by the Certification Authority are more thorough than for the first two levels. The EV SSL Certificate may be required, for example, if the requesting website processes user transactions within it or if there is a need to protect private data.
In any case, the applicant is responsible for evaluating their SSL or TLS certificate needs based on the activity of their website. A suitable SSL certificate will be the key to securing a website according to the desired level of confidentiality.
The electronic signature
Among the different types of digital certificates, there is the electronic signature. The electronic signature is surrounded by a legislative framework confirming its legal reliability and security, culminating in the implementation of the electronic IDentification Authentication and trust Services regulation, or eIDAS regulation. Since its implementation in 2016, it frames the use of digital signatures, delivered by so-called TSPs (trusted service providers).
Electronic signatures have been an integral part of the digital transformation of companies for several years now and are becoming increasingly popular. And indeed, there is a lot to gain from it: improved traceability and customer relations, reduced costs and paper usage, etc.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, it also guarantees the integrity of the documents signed using this process, as well as the identification of the signatories.
Similar to the SSL certificate, the digital signature also has different levels of certification. There are three of them: the simple signature level, the advanced signature level and the advanced signature level with qualified certificate.
The Digital Credential
The last main type of digital certificate is the verifiable digital credential, issued according to the W3C Verifiable Credentials data model. So far, this type of digital certificate is mainly used for diplomas and acquired skills, with strong sources of trust, such as EDCI Europass, which calls it “digital proof” or EBSI, the blockchain of the European Commission. Often delivered in addition to the paper diploma, the digital credential provides real added value when looking for a job or continuing your studies. This digital credential allows recruiters and employers to verify the authenticity of an applicant’s diploma in a very simple way using digital technology.
Through a simple URL or QR code on the resume, the user of the digital credential can access data and identity elements secured on a blockchain, allowing to ensure the conformity of the information provided by an applicant.
BCdiploma deploys its verifiable digital credentials service on the EBSI blockchain as part of the Fr.EBSI project, and supports many schools and other training organizations in the issuance of digital diplomas. University of Lille, IAE Nantes, emlyon business school: learn more about the companies trusting BCDiploma!
When and why should you use a digital certificate?
The digital certificate is a key to confirm an identity or a certification. If there are different types of digital certificates, they also have different uses depending on the context. However, certain common characteristics allow us to determine the framework for the use of digital certificates.
The digital certificate: a key to more data security
The first of these features is security. Using a digital certificate is a guarantee of security, particularly through the legal framework (eIDAS regulation, RGS…). Whether it’s to secure internet browsing, sign a document or issue a diploma, security is the keyword.
The electronic certificate, an adaptable format
While security is key, using a digital certificate also provides great flexibility. In spite of the legislative framework in force, the user has many customizable formulas. These are adapted to the needs of each individual, as shown by the different levels of TLS certificates or electronic signatures.
Greater accessibility to combat threats
Digital certificates offer a simple and accessible way for any user to protect themselves against threats. Indeed, using a digital certificate also means being in line with the digital transformation of the company and its risks. In the face of the cyber threat, we must use current technologies that guarantee security, reliability and ease of use for everyone. The democratization of these digital certifications is what will reduce the threat of cyber intrusions.
In short, the digital certificate should be used whenever possible. It facilitates many procedures, as well as preventing the risks associated with its non-use.
How to use a digital certificate
In order to have a digital certificate and to use it, you just have to contact the organization or the institution concerned according to your need. Certification Authority for the switch to HTTPS or PSCo for the use of electronic signature software.
Regarding digital certificates and diplomas, you can also ask the institution in charge to provide you with one if possible.
Again, the options for using a digital certificate vary. For a website, for example, the use is permanent, each connection being made via the chosen SSL certificate level. In the case of a digital diploma, the use will be via a URL link or a QR code, depending on the institution.
BCdiploma: digital, tamper-proof and verifiable credentials
Would you like to know more about the digital credentials and its use?
BCdiploma uses the blockchain to issue diplomas, certificates, badges and micro-certifications in a 100% digital format that complies with the latest Verifiable Credentials standards. More than a hundred institutions in fifteen different countries trust our services for the issuance of digital credentials.
Visit the BCDiploma website for more information!