What are Digital Certificates

An SSL or TLS Certificate (A.K.A. Digital or Identify certificates) are digital files used to certify a public key's ownership. These certificates are issued and signed by a CA (Certificate Authority)...
Today I spent a couple of hours investigating the best option I could get for a TLS/SSL certificate. I have this website hosted on my own server, and before this, I had self-signed certificates to use HTTPS. The problem with this kind of certificate is that since they are not from a trusted CA (Certificate Authority), they are marked as untrusted or insecure.

Since this is a website, I would like my possible employers to visit. A trusted Certificate is almost mandatory for two main reasons. First, to avoid getting the warning while you first visit the website and to be able to encrypt all the information showing I can configure a server the proper way.

What is a certificate:

Every time you send or receive information on the Internet, it passes through a network of several computers before arriving at its destination. When you use the HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) protocol, the information travels in cleartext, which can easily be read by anyone. While it travels to the network, every computer acting as a hop can read the information as cleartext. This works fine when you are working with static pages in which the only information is some text and maybe a couple of images. It can now be a security risk since you work with many websites with sensitive data, passwords, usernames, bank accounts, and transfers all in the clear.

We now use a new kind of protocol, HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure), Which encrypts all the information making it really difficult to read the information even when it passes through any machine. Two of the main methods to make this possible are with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), a protocol almost deprecated by know since it has many vulnerabilities. And with TLS (Transport Layer Security).

TLS (and SSL) allow users to securely transmit sensitive data when using this technology. This is really useful for social networks where you have to authenticate, such as with username and password, banking, e-commerce, etc. TLS uses asymmetric encryption, which means that there is a private and a public key. Used to encrypt and decrypt the message between the client and the server.

An SSL/TLS Certificate (A.K.A. Digital or Identify certificates) are digital files used to certify a public key's ownership. These certificates are issued and signed by a CA (Certificate Authority). They certify they have verified the Public Key belongs to the domain name owner, to which the certificate is assigned. When this certificate is given by a trusted CA, your website will now be seen as safe. The lock in the URL will appear closed and marked as secure. Which, in the end, is what we want.

Where can I get one

There are many places where you can buy a certificate. I just used one so far, and that's the one I'm recommending. The website is called I liked this particular site because the certificate was really cheap and functional, only $7.49 if I don't make any mistake, and it was effortless to buy, set up, install and verify. It was fast and easy.

As I've said before, TLS/SSL Certificates are now something important in the life of any website and web app. These digital files provide us with another layer of security. That doesn't mean that we are completely safe since there are also vulnerabilities and ways to compromise a Certificate's integrity.

Maybe I'm not the best at explaining, so here are some more resources to understand Certificates better.

What is an SSL Certificate

TLS/SSL Certificate


In Spanish

SSL Certificates

Thank you so much for reading.


Published on 3 May 2021

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