Texas A&M Certificate Service
Texas A&M University


This glossary of terms has been compiled from InCommon, Internet2, and EDUCAUSE sources for the convenience of campus developers.

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certificate - A digital representation of information which at least (1) identifies the certification authority issuing it, (2) names or identifies its Subscriber, (3) contains the Subscriber's public key, (4) identifies its operational period, and (5) is digitally signed by the certification authority issuing it.
Certificate Authority (CA) - A certificate authority (CA) is an authority in a network that issues and manages security credentials and public keys for message encryption.
Certificate Policy (CP) - A named set of rules that indicates the applicability of a certificate to a particular community and/or class of application with common security requirements. http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3647.txt
Certificate Signing Request (CSR) - A digital file which contains a user's name and public key. The user sends the CSR to a Certificate Authority (CA) to be converted into a certificate.
Certification Practice Statement (CPS) - A statement of the practices that a certification authority employs in issuing, managing, revoking, and renewing or re-keying certificates. http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3647.txt
Client Certificate - Certificate issued to an individual. It can be used to encrypt and digitally sign email messages; to digitally sign documents and files and to authenticate the identity of an individual prior to granting them access to secure online services.
Code Signing Certificate - Code Signing Certificates are used to digitally sign software executables and scripts. Doing so helps users to confirm that the software is 'genuine' by verifying content source (authentication of the publisher of the software) and content integrity (that the software has not been modified, corrupted or hacked since the time it was originally signed).

InCommon CA Root Profile - The description of attributes and the data required to authenticate under the InCommon Certificate Authority (CA).
Issuer - The CA that issues a certificate.

public key cryptography - A cryptographic technique that uses two keys: the first key is always kept secret by an entity, and the second key, which is uniquely linked to the first one, is made public. Messages created with the first key can be uniquely verified with the second key.
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) - The set of standards and services that facilitate the use of public-key cryptography in a networked environment.

SSL Certificate - SSL Certificates are used to secure communications between a website, host or server and end users that are connecting to that server. An SSL certificate will confirm the identity of the Organization that is operating the website; encrypt all information passed between the site and the visitor and will ensure the integrity of all transmitted data.

validation - The process of identification of certificate applicants.