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SSL:  What is the difference between a root and intermediate certificate

Posted on 2014-03-24
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Last Modified: 2014-03-26
Regarding SSL

What is the difference between a root and intermediate certificate
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Question by:Anthony Lucia
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becraig earned 250 total points
ID: 39951802
The root certificate is the certificate of the publishing authority and is generally valid for a longer duration.

Intermediates certs are usually a shorter life and chain to the root of the certification authority.

Intermediates CA's generally allow issuing of end user certificates allowing less visibility and access to the root as well as less potential for compromise.

The CA you can say acts as a manufacturer, where designs and plans are created and the CA can act as a factory creating models based on designs by the manufacturer for eventual sale provisioning to end users.
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by:Dave Howe
Dave Howe earned 250 total points
ID: 39953883
Simpler: A root certificate is self-signed, has the "CA" flag set, and is in the root store for your computer and/or web browser.

An intermediate certificate is one that has the "CA" flag set and is signed by another certificate that has the "CA" flag set (you can have multiple levels of indirection, but to be valid, it must be signed by a valid CA or by a root CA)

an end certificate is one without the CA flag set, hence cannot be used to sign certificates further from the root.
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