Non-profit, member-based IT support for research & educational institutions

What are Web Server Certificates? How are they used?

Access to campus services such as personal, financial and academic records involve sensitive data. It is important that access is limited to authorized users and that data is secure when transmitted over the Internet. Today most web browsers protect this sensitive information as it is sent across the network by encrypting communications using a protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). However, in order to support SSL web servers require a digital certificate to be installed.

Web server certificates are digital certificates that allow Web servers to establish Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) sessions with a variety of supported browsers, including Netscape Navigator® and Microsoft® Internet Explorer.

Web server certificates are digital-not paper!-files stored in your Web browser and used to authenticate the Web server and support the public/private key technology that encrypts data as it is sent.

The main function of a Web server certificate is to assure that the server you are connecting to is the one it claims to be, not an imposter. If the certificate is provided by an established external authority such as CREN, campus community members can be confident in the identity of the server to which they are connected.

To obtain CREN web server certificates, simply complete the 2-page application for CREN Web server certificates by following the step-by-step guide: The ABC's of the Application Process to Get your Web Server Certificates.