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In cryptography and computer security, a self-signed certificate is an identity certificate that is signed by the same entity whose identity it certifies. This term has nothing to do with the identity of the person or organization that actually performed the signing procedure.
In technical terms a self-signed certificate is one signed with its own private key.
Most certificates contain a number of fields not listed here. Note that in terms of a certificate’s X.509 representation, a certificate is not “flat” but contains these fields nested in various structures within the certificate.
These are some of the most common fields in certificates.
- Serial Number: Used to uniquely identify the certificate within a CA’s systems. In particular this is used to track revocation information.
- Subject: The entity a certificate belongs to: a machine, an individual, or an organization.
- Issuer: The entity that verified the information and signed the certificate.
- Not Before: The earliest time and date on which the certificate is valid. Usually set to a few hours or days prior to the moment the certificate was issued, to avoid clock skew problems.
- Not After: The time and date past which the certificate is no longer valid.
- Key Usage: The valid cryptographic uses of the certificate’s public key. Common values include digital signature validation, key encipherment, and certificate signing.
- Extended Key Usage: The applications in which the certificate may be used. Common values include TLS server authentication, email protection, and code signing.
- Public Key: A public key belonging to the certificate subject.
- Signature Algorithm: The algorithm used to sign the public key certificate.
- Signature: A signature of the certificate body by the issuer’s private key.