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FAQ Question

Software or Hardware Certificate?

FAQ Answer

Digital certificates retrieved into a browser, also known as software certificates, are intended to be used mainly from a single computer. As no additional device is required, software certificates are relatively inexpensive.

Digital certificates retrieved into a portable hardware device such as USB token or Smart card, not only can be used from multiple computers, but also offer additional security via the built-in second factor authentication feature. Certificates stored in hardware devices can also be configured for Client Authentication for faster secure login sessions.

The decision to opt for a software or a hardware certificate is mainly predefined by the sponsoring organization (affiliated/business); at a personal level (unaffiliated), the applicant should weigh-in if the additional security and portability benefits are worth the hardware expense. 

Note: Be sure to check with your relying party or program to determine if it requires a specific type of storage:

  • Software
  • USB token
  • Smart card