What Are Distinguished Names

Q

What are distinguished names on certificates? I see "CN=..." on in many certificates.

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A

Distinguished Names are used in X.509 certificates to identify entities, such as those used in the subject and issuer (signer) fields.

The X.509 standard defines the following fields for Distinguished Names:

  • CN - Common Name of a person, e.g., "Susan Jones"
  • OU - Organization Unit (e.g., department or division) name, e.g., "Purchasing"
  • O - Organization name, e.g., "ABCSystems, Inc."
  • L - Locality (e.g., city) name, e.g., "Palo Alto"
  • ST - State or province name, e.g., "California"
  • C - Country ISO2 code, e.g., "US"

For example, below are Distinguished Names of a certificate:

 Issuer: C=ZA, ST=Western Cape, L=Cape Town, O=Thawte Consulting cc,
               OU=Certification Services Division,
               CN=Thawte Server CA/emailAddress=server-certs@thawte.com

 

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