Windows Certificate Types

Windows Azure cloud services use several types of certificates in which the main two among them includes the pfx and cer. pfx certificate is used as an encryption certificate where as management certificates have the extension of cer. Now, what is the difference between pfx and cer?

Windows uses .cer for an X.509 certificate. This certificate can be binary encoded or encoded with Base-64 and have a header and footer applied. We need to check the certificate’s signature using the issuer’s public key to verify the integrity of the certificate. For verification we need to check another certificate again.

Windows use .pfx for a PKCS#12 file which contains cryptographic information’s including certificates, root authority certificates, private keys and certificate chains. The contents of this certificate can be cryptographically protected using passwords to keep the private keys, private. This also preserves the integrity of root certificates.

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