The following is a definition of an X.509 Certificate as given by CP member Jeffery Walton in his article (Cryptographic Interoperability: Keys) :
A public key certificate is a digitally signed statement from one entity, stating that the public key of another entity is authentic. A signed certificate binds an entity to a public key. The certificate allows us (the users) to confirm the identity of the owner of a public key. In addition, it allows us (the users) to confirm the authenticity of the public key. If the public key were tampered, the signature on the certificate would no longer be valid. The same applies if the entity's information was tampered or changed.
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