What Do External Certification Authorities Do?

What Do External Certification Authorities Do

What Do External Certification Authorities Do? – Every time you connect to a website via HTTPS, you entrust a certificate authority to validate identities, issue digital certificates and establish trust between parties.

Public CAs embedded into web browsers and operating systems adhere to stringent protocols in order to verify the identity of entities requesting certificates, while providing various validation levels ranging from domain to organizational (OV).


Authentication is one of the key security functions that certificate authorities provide, used to verify identities, devices, servers and establish trusted connections over the internet. When authentication fails it can result in lost trust between user and website or app.

To combat this issue, certificate authorities employ a chain of trust – an hierarchical structure beginning with root certificates and ending with SSL certificates backed by government bodies such as the Department of Defense (DoD). Root certificates are considered the most dependable; many government agencies back them as well.

CAs utilize a private key that is stored safely within a hardware security module (HSM), protected with both physical and software controls. When necessary for signing short-lived certificates, this HSM may remain offline so as to safeguard it against theft as an attacker would need access to all CA systems in order to forge certificates.

Most CAs impose stringent identity verification standards on people and entities they work with, including requiring proof of identity and affiliation from those approved for certificates. This safeguards their reputation while guaranteeing only legitimate users are granted certificates.

Organizations often prefer an internal Certificate Authority (CA), as this gives them greater control of implementation and management, but external CAs offer several distinct advantages over their internal counterparts. One advantage is their pre-verification by most web servers and browsers – saving admins the hassle of convincing all clients and servers to trust their certificates.

An external CA offers many other advantages as well, such as providing various types of certificates to serve different applications. This includes SSL certificates which create a secure link between servers and browsers to protect data; or device authentication certificates used by endpoints connecting to networks like VPNs or Wi-Fis.


Certificate authorities provide more than identity verification: they also encrypt data sent over secure connections, helping prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information if bad actors manage to intercept a message or website and gain entry. Encryption can also protect users against phishing scams by verifying they’ve actually reached an authentic website rather than an imitation designed to steal user details.

Public CAs (also referred to as root CAs) are trusted by most browsers and operating systems to issue certificates for websites requiring encryption, making them the most commonly available online. Public CAs use stringent protocols and regulations to authenticate the identity of websites or servers before issuing certificates, and follow strict processes when revoking certificates when needed.

Private CAs (internal Certificate Authorities) are typically used within an organization to issue certificates for its own services and applications; they typically do not trust external parties with this process. Private CAs typically follow similar rules and procedures for verifying entities before issuing certificates; in addition, they possess the power to revoke certificates if compromised certificates or their private keys have been stolen from an account.

There are thousands of public CAs worldwide, but only a select few account for most certificates used online. These providers are considered highly trustworthy due to regularly passing stringent audits and adhering to industry standards; additionally they allocate sufficient resources for infrastructure security measures as well as being quick in responding to customer concerns promptly.

Though external CAs can provide businesses with many advantages, scaling them as the organization grows can be difficult. This is particularly true for organizations managing thousands of certificates at once. When this is the case, internal CAs may be more cost-effective and easier to manage using SecureW2 PKI solution; our managed internal CAs are easy to deploy into Microsoft environments while offering you security without the added burden of managing one yourself.


Signing is designed to give software publishers and developers the confidence that the code distributed has not been altered in any way, by comparing its computed hash against that calculated from actual code. When these match, then customers or users know they are downloading an original copy – this functionality is provided by Microsoft Authenticode when used as part of an Internet Client Software Development Kit.

Certificate Authorities (CAs) are trusted third parties that manage the lifecycle of end entity certificates from creation to revocation and expiration, from generation through to revocation and expiration. There are hundreds of CAs worldwide and they all follow different processes but must abide by certain minimum standards in order to be trusted – this includes passing regular audits as well as adhering to industry guidelines in order to protect themselves against hackers.

Public Certificate Authorities (CAs), are responsible for issuing the vast majority of certificates used on the internet. Their digital certificates are relied on by web browsers, individuals, operating systems and applications alike – making CAs essential components in allowing secure exchanges online.

Internal Certificate Authorities, also known as Private CAs, are specialized certificate authorities designed specifically for use within networks and only issue certificates to people connected to that network. They can therefore be used for authentication within Wi-Fi/VPN networks and email security as well as protecting devices connected to Wi-Fi/VPN connections or secure email communications.

Due to this, external parties generally will not trust digital certificates issued by an internal CA and it can often be simpler and cheaper to pay an external CA for one than creating their own PKI and acting as their own certificate authority.


ECAs provide many essential functions, and verification is one of the most critical. CAs use automated systems to check that domain names and URLs match up correctly when issuing certificates – this helps establish trust with web browsers and allows users to safely conduct transactions online.

At ECAs and verifier services providers, it’s crucial that you select a reputable ECA when selecting SSL certificates and verifier services. Your provider should have stringent audit policies as well as industry expertise; furthermore, high-quality products with customer support to maximize the success of PKI implementation are expected from them.

ECAs not only verify identities but can also encrypt and sign data. This service is especially beneficial for organizations that handle sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords and financial transactions – encryption serves to safeguard this sensitive data by making sure it cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals or companies.

There are different kinds of certificates and ECAs available, each offering advantages and disadvantages. Domain Validated (DV) certificates require the least amount of identity validation, typically costing less than other certificate types; Extended Validation (OV) requires deeper identification and validation processes that involve third-party records or sources for authentication.

Not only can OV certificates add an extra level of trust, they can also help your website rank better in search engine results. This is due to increased authentication reassuring web browsers that you’re an approved entity rather than an impending threat.

As well as these advantages, OV certificates are the only certificates trusted by all major web browsers and provide more security than their DV counterparts by verifying the identity of organizations who own domains in question.

Depending on your Orchestrator configuration, enabling external CA can allow an external device certificate authority to issue CSRs rather than using the local PKI server for certifications.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.