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Privacy Defended: Protecting Yourself Online by Chris Weber, William Chan, Gary Bahadur

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The Almighty Certificate Authority

A certificate cannot certify itself. That is, by itself, a certificate cannot be trusted. Some entity has to mark the certificate as valid with a trusted seal of approval. The PKI model includes a CA, which essentially signs and validates a given certificate as being trustworthy. The CA is at the top of the PKI pyramid. The CA can be a company like VeriSign, Entrust, or Thawte who manages digital certificates for public Internet citizens. It can also be a government organization like the U.S. Postal Service, or a private company like the one you work for that wants to use certificates for employee identification purposes. Sometimes, a CA can even be an individual like you or me.

We are focusing on CAs that serve ...

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