A Digital Certificate is a type of electronic credit card that is used to establish the credentials of an individual when performing any business or any other type of transactions online. It can be obtained from the Certificate Authority. This Digital certificate will consist of the following details like a serial number, date of expiry, a copy of the public key of the certificate holder. This public key is used for the process encryption of message as well as digital signatures.
One more important detail contained in this certificate is the digital signature of the authority which issues the digital certificate. This would enable the recipient to check for the originality of the certificate. Certain Digital certificates are issued under the standard called X.509. These certificates are generally kept in the registries which helps the authenticated users to refer to the public keys of the other authenticated users.
The Digital certificate is also referred to as a public key certificate or identity certificate. It is an electronic document in which the digital signature is used along with a public key containing certain information on the identity of an individual like name, organization, address etc. This certificate is mainly used to check whether a public key belongs exactly to an authorized individual.
Generally according to the scheme of public key infrastructure, the digital signature in this digital certificate will be of the certificate authority. But in case of web trust scheme, the signature might belong to the user in which it is coined as a self signed certificate or if it is of other users it is termed as endorsements. But in either of the above said schemes, this signature will be considered as an attestation of the certificate authority which is used for the identification of the information and the public key of an individual.