An SSL certificate is a signed electronic guarantee that verifies the authenticity of a particular server. It's primarily used for providing web pages through an encrypted connection. Any service accessible by SSL must have a certificate, including any web server with encrypted or “secure” content.
Sometimes a self-signed certificate is sufficient for test and development servers, and it works with SSL encryption. You can create a self-signed certificate by following these instructions. However self-signed certificates don't help confirm the authenticity of the server and they could be open to some attacks. Most clients display a warning when they connect to a server with a self-signed certificate before proceeding (and some won't work at all).
On servers that require an encrypted connection, you should use an SSL certificate signed by a trusted certificate authority. ITS, in partnership with Geotrust provides the opportunity to procure SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates with strong encryption and authentication at a reduced cost for Suffolk University.
Since this product is trust-based, Suffolk University CIO’s designate authorized administrators who are authorized to purchase certificates. Authorized administrators are given access to our SSL certificate site to purchase certificates on behalf of an institution.