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Glossary of Terms

The following table provides explanations of acronyms and other technical terms that appear throughout the Microsoft® Certificate Server documentation set.

Term Description
ASN.1 Abstract Syntax Notation One. A data definition language.
CA Certificate Authority. An entity that issues, manages and revokes certificates.
CA certificate Identifies the Certificate Authority (CA) that issues server and/or client authentication certificates to the servers and clients that request these certificates. Because it contains a public key used in digital signatures, it is also referred to as a signature certificate. If the CA is a root authority, the CA certificate may be referred to as a root certificate. Also sometimes known as a site certificate.
CA hierarchy A Certificate Authority (CA) hierarchy contains multiple CAs. It is organized such that each CA is certified by another CA in a higher level of the hierarchy until the top of the hierarchy, also known as the root authority, is reached.
client certificate Refers to a certificate used for client authentication, such as authenticating a Web browser on a Web server. When a Web browser client attempts to access a secured Web server, the client sends its certificate to the server to allow it to verify the client's identity.
CRL Certificate revocation list. A document maintained and published by a CA that lists certificates that have been revoked by the CA.
CryptoAPI Microsoft Cryptographic API. An application programming interface providing services for authentication, encoding, and encryption in Microsoft Win32®-based applications.
CSP Cryptographic Service Provider. The code that actually performs authentication, encoding and encryption services accessed by Win32-based applications through the CryptoAPI.
DLL Dynamic-link library. A code module that is not itself an executable program, but can be loaded and shared by one or more executable programs.
key exchange certificate Certificate used to encrypt information sent to another party. The Certificate Authority (CA) key exchange certificate can be used by a client to encrypt information sent to the CA.
IIS Microsoft Internet Information Server.
LDAP Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. A more easily implemented subset of the X.500 DAP standard for directory services.
MD2 Message digest algorithm.
MD4 Message digest algorithm.
MD5 Message digest algorithm.
message digest A short, fixed-length digital string derived from a longer, variable-length message using a computational algorithm.
ODBC Open Database Connectivity. A database connectivity standard that allows applications to communicate with database back ends without writing to a specific database management system (DBMS).
PKCS Public-Key Cryptography Standards.
root authority The Certificate Authority (CA) at the top of a CA hierarchy. Certifies CAs in the next level of the hierarchy.
root certificate A self-signed Certificate Authority (CA) certificate that identifies a CA. It is called a root certificate because it is the certificate for the root CA. The root CA must sign its own CA certificate because by definition there is no higher certifying authority to sign its CA certificate.
RPC Remote Procedure Calls. A widely used standard defined by the Open Software Foundation (OSF) for distributed computing. The RPC transport enables one process to make calls to functions that are part of another process. The other process can be on the same computer or on a different computer on the network.
server certificate Refers to a certificate used for server authentication, such as authenticating a Web server to a Web browser. When a Web browser client attempts to access a secured Web server, the server sends its certificate to the browser to allow it to verify the server's identity.
SET Secure Electronic Transaction. A protocol for secure electronic transactions over the Internet.
SHA Secure Hash Algorithm. A message digest algorithm.
signature certificate A certificate containing a public key that is used to verify digital signatures.
site certificate Both server certificates and Certificate Authority (CA) certificates are sometimes called site certificates. When referring to a server certificate, the certificate identifies the Web server presenting the certificate. When referring to a CA certificate, the certificate identifies the CA that issues server and/or client authentication certificates to the servers and clients that request these certificates.
S/MIME Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. A protocol for secure electronic mail over the Internet.
SSL Secure Sockets Layer. A protocol for secure network communications using a combination of public and secret key technology.
URL Uniform Resource Locator. An encoding scheme used by the World Wide Web (WWW) for accessing data on the Internet. The general format is service://hostname/pathname.
X.509 Standard certificate format supported by Certificate Server.


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