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Microsoft® Windows® Security: Essentials by Darril Gibson

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Understanding a Certificate

A certificate is a file that is used for a variety of security purposes. The certificate can be issued to a person and associated with a user account. For example, users may have smart cards for authentication. The certificate file is embedded into the smart card, allowing the user to carry the certificate with them from system to system. It can also be issued to a device such as a server, workstation, or mobile phone, and will stay with that device for the lifetime of the certificate. Within a domain, certificates are normally issued to users automatically with little, if any, user interaction. However, administrators often request and install certificates on servers manually.

Most certificates are files with an ...

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