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Obtain a Digital Certificate from a 3rd Party Certificate Authority (CA)

How do I obtain a Digital Certificate from a 3rd party Certificate Authority (CA)?

Digital Certificates are used to verify identity and are used in a variety of scenarios, such as e-mail protection and validation, secure websites and online shopping carts and more. On a secure website, when customers are required to provide their credit card information, they will need to be assured that their confidential information is secure. Customers also need to know that they’re sending information to your company and not to an intruder impersonating your company. Digital Certificate that are issued by trusted 3rd party CAs provide verification that your Website does indeed represent your company, thereby verifying your company’s identity.

Although possible to create and install in-house, the biggest problem with the built-in Windows Server 2003 CA is the fact that it stands on it’s own and (when installed with the default settings) is not under the direct trust path of a major 3rd party CA. In order to qualify for installation of a Windows Server 2003 CA that is trusted by the major 3rd party CAs you will need to spend quite a large sum of money, something that might prove to be too much for small to medium businesses.

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One of the oldest running CAs, offers free Digital Certificate for personal use.

Thawte – Personal E-mail certificates – secure e-mail communications

CAcert Inc

New player on the market. Offers free personal e-mail certificates. Certificate is free for personal use, and can be renewed and extended with little or no fuss.

Drawback: New CA, not yet tested and not yet fully implemented. CA certificate is not yet stored in any computer, and unless you manage to add the Trusted Root CA to all your computers and to all of your clients’ computers – no one will trust certificates issued by this provider. This behavior will probably be fixed in future Service Packs or Hotfixes, the moment Microsoft recognizes this CA as a trusted root CA.

CAcert Inc: The Free Community Digital Certificate Authority

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