The services of a certification authority are mainly used to guarantee the security of digital communications via the TLS protocol (Transport Layer Security), used in web communications (HTTPS) or e-mail communications (SMTP, POP3, IMAP), as well as to safeguard digital documents (for example, using advanced electronic signatures with the PAdES system for PDF documents, or via the S/MIME protocol for e-mails).
A revoked certificate is a certificate that is no longer valid even if it is used within its validity period. A revoked certificate has the status of suspended if its validity can be restored under certain conditions.
One of the ways in which trust in a CA is established for a user is by “installing” on the user’s computer (trusted third party) the self-signed certificate of the root CA of the hierarchy to be trusted. The installation process can be done, on Windows XP type operating systems, by double clicking on the file containing the certificate (with the extension “”) and starting the “certificate import wizard”. As a general rule, the process must be repeated for each of the browsers on the system, such as Opera, Firefox or Internet Explorer, and in each case with their specific certificate import functions.
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However, we all know that things are not always what they seem on the Internet. We may think we are visiting the website of a particular company whose domain name indicates that it is indeed that company. However, how can we verify that we are actually connecting to a server controlled by the company in question? Could it be a website developed by a hacker trying to get hold of our personal data?
These types of problems are solved by CAs. They inform us that we are connecting to a genuine website, as they have already verified the website or the underlying organization. In this way, we reduce the chances of sending our bank details to a hacker.
All Internet users can check whether a domain has been verified by clicking on the padlock in the browser bar – try it yourself! You will clearly see the SSL/TLS certificate data of a particular site and you will know that there are encryption systems operating behind this certificate.
The digital certificate allows companies to operate securely and reliably in the online environment and to verify their identity in the web environment. This certificate must be issued by a trusted entity.
Thanks to the infrastructure of cryptographic keys that a Certification Authority has, the identity of the signer is trusted and guaranteed, as well as the content of the transactions made. An example of a Certification Authority is Camerfirma or the FNMT.
Some of the functions of the Certification Authority are: to provide services such as the publication of certificates, lists of revoked certificates, certificate validity verification, etc. In addition, the CA records the exact date and time at which a document was electronically signed, known as time stamping.
To facilitate the issuance process, companies can count on a Presential Verification Point (PVP). A PVP makes it possible to obtain the digital certificate immediately. The function of the PVP is to review and check the documentation submitted by the certificate applicant that legitimizes him/her to obtain the certificate. As a result, certificate issuance times are reduced and day-to-day tasks such as, for example, the electronic signature of documents are expedited.
Its mission is to validate and certify that an electronic signature corresponds to a natural person, legal entity or collective without legal personality. It contains the necessary information to sign electronically and identify its owner with his data: name, NIF, algorithm and signature keys, expiration date and issuing body.
The Certification Authority attests that the electronic signature corresponds to a specific user. That is the reason why the certificates are signed, in turn, by the Certification Authority.
How can I verify a signed document or know if a signature is valid? If a signed document is received, it is important to validate the signature, that is, to verify that the signed data correspond to the originals, that the certificate with which it has been signed is valid and that the file structure is correct. This process can be done through VALIDe.
A Certificate can be invalidated before it expires for security reasons, termination of the represented entity, etc. Once revoked, the certificate can no longer be reactivated and the entire application process must be restarted.