In cryptography, a certificate authority, or certification authority, (CA) is an entity that issues digital certificates.

The digital certificate certifies the ownership of a public key by the named subject of the certificate. This allows others (relying parties) to rely upon signatures or assertions made by the private key that corresponds to the public key that is certified. In this model of trust relationships, a CA is a trusted third party that is trusted by both the subject (owner) of the certificate and the party relying upon the certificate.

CAs are characteristic of many public key infrastructure (PKI) schemes. Commercial CAs charge to issue certificates that will automatically be trusted by most web browsers.

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