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 IU Trident Indiana University

Visualizing Public Key Certificates

Project Leads: Dave Reagan, Advanced Visualization Laboratory, UITS Research Technologies

SHA1 Bar Chart
Figure 1. A bar chart indicating "sha1" is the most widely used message digest algorithm.

The Advanced Visualization Lab collaborated with Professor of Informatics L. Jean Camp to create an online tool for visualizing and analyzing a database of public key certificates.

Certificate Explorer is believed to be the first tool of its kind to focus solely on public key certificates. Users can query a database of over one million certificates collected by Prof. Camp and her students. Certificate Explorer is hosted on a School of Informatics server, open to both researchers and the public.

Public key certificates are documents which are used by websites to prove their authenticity. Certificates contain many fields, defined by the X.509 standard, including the identities of the subject (the owner of the website) and issuer (often a certification authority), and the dates during which the certificate is valid. Prof. Camp and her students created a database of over one million certificates collected from real-world websites. Certificate Explorer was created to allow users around the world to query that database in various ways and visualize the results in real-time.

IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab is funded through the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology; is a unit of UITS Research Technologies; and is affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute. For questions about this project or to request a consultation, please contact

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Multidisciplinary Studies (980) - Science, Technology, and Society

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) - Information Science/Studies