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Security Dictionary
Can't tell 'smtp' from 'snmp'? Find the precise meaning of these and hundreds of other security-related terms in our convenient and up-to-date Security Dictionary.
certification path
(I) An ordered sequence of public-key certificates (or a sequence of public-key certificates followed by one attribute certificate) that enables a certificate user to verify the signature on the last certificate in the path, and thus enables the user to obtain a certified public key (or certified attributes) of the entity that is the subject of that last certificate. (See: certificate validation, valid certificate.)

(O) "An ordered sequence of certificates of objects in the [X.500 Directory Information Tree] which, together with the public key of the initial object in the path, can be processed to obtain that of the final object in the path." [X509, R2527]

(C) The path is the "list of certificates needed to allow a particular user to obtain the public key of another." [X509] The list is "linked" in the sense that the digital signature of each certificate (except the first) is verified by the public key contained in the preceding certificate; i.e., the private key used to sign a certificate and the public key contained in the preceding certificate form a key pair owned by the entity that signed.

(C) In the X.509 quotation in the previous "C" paragraph, the word "particular" points out that a certification path that can be validated by one certificate user might not be able to be validated by another. That is because either the first certificate should be a trusted certificate (it might be a root certificate) or the signature on the first certificate should be verified by a trusted key (it might be a root key), but such trust is defined relative to each user, not absolutely for all users.

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