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Why do I need a digital certificate?

A digital certificate provides an electronic means of proving your identity in order to securely conduct business online. You can use certificates to:
  1. Encrypt information so that only the intended recipient can read it,
  2. Identify yourself in electronic transactions,
  3. Digitally sign information to provide assurance to the recipient that it has not been changed in transit, and
  4. Verify that you actually sent the transmission.

There are three types of digital certificates: TrustID Personal, Business, and Server. Personal certificates authenticate an individual and are used to digitally sign and encrypt electronic documents. Business certificates authenticate the individual to be an employee of a business and are also used to digitally sign and encrypt electronic documents. Server or SSL certificates are issued for Web servers and are used to authenticate servers to Web browsers. This is used to protect information such as credit card numbers and account information on the Web.

Variations of these three types of certificates are based on specific governments and industries. For instance, the US Department of Defense (DoD) requires all contractors obtain an ECA certificate. Therefore, an employee of a company that is doing business with the DoD will buy an ECA certificate and not a TrustID Business certificate.




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