Certification Authority (CA)
A Certification Authority is a trusted third party that issues digital certificates and validates the identity of the holder of a digital certificate.

Certificate Policy (CP)
A description of the rules governing the use of a public key certificate in a particular environment.

Certificate Revocation List (CRL)
A list of revoked certificates that is created and signed by the same CA that issued the certificates. A certificate is added to the list if it is revoked (e.g. because of suspected key compromise, DN change) and then removed from it when it reaches the end of the certificate’s validity period.

Transforming clear, meaningful information into an enciphered, unintelligible form using an algorithm and a key.

The act of restoring an encrypted file to its original state through the use of a key.



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Digital Certificate
A digital certificate is a secure digital identity that certifies the identity of the holder. Issued by a Certification Authority, it typically contains a user's name, public key, and related information. A digital certificate is tamper-proof and cannot be forged, and is signed by the private key of the Certification Authority which issued it.

The act of disguising information through the use of a key so that it cannot be understood by an unauthorized person.

A developing standard for security at the network or packet processing layer of network communication. Is especially useful for implementing virtual private networks and remote user access through dial-up connections.

When used in the context of cryptography, a series of random numbers used by a cryptographic algorithm to transform plaintext data into encrypted data, and vice versa.

Key Pair
A pair of digital keys - one public and one private - used for encrypting and signing digital information.

Private Key
A cryptographic key known only to the user, employed in public key cryptography in decrypting or signing information. One half of a key pair.

Public Key
The other half of a key pair, a public key is held in a digital certificate. Public keys are usually published in a directory. Any public key can encrypt information; however, data encrypted with a specific public key can only be decrypted by the corresponding private key, which the key owner keeps secret. A public key can also be used to verify the authenticity of a digital signature.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)
A set of policies, processes, and technologies used to verify, enrol and certify users of a security application. A PKI uses public key cryptography and key certification practices to secure communications.

Qualified certificate
High level personal/professional digital identity assurance supporting legally valid digital signatures.

Registration Authority (RA)
A person or organization responsible for the identification and authentication of an applicant for a digital certificate. An RA does not issue or sign certificates.

Smart Card
A device that is often the same size as a credit card but that is “smart” enough to hold its own data and applications and do its own processing. Smart cards can be used to store personal information, hold digital cash or prove identity.

Time stamp
A timestamp is the digital proof that objectively enables to detect the creation time of certain data. To get a timestamp, the party that is interested in proving the creation time of the data, sends a cryptographic code to the time stamping service provider (TSP). Finding two data collections with a similar cryptographic code needs tremendous computing power, unavailable to any modern computer or computer network. The service provider returns a digitally signed proof that proves the existence of the said data collection. Since the time stamping authority sees only a cryptographic code, the confidentiality of the data is retained.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Private data network that makes use of the public telecommunication infrastructure, maintaining privacy through the use of a tunnelling protocol and security procedures.