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Digital Certificates are special encrypted text files that are generated by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) that encrypt and decrypt the data as part of a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). A CAcan generate public and private keys and put them into signed certificates, revoke certificates, and renew certificates. A digital certificate contains information to identify a user or device, such as the name, serial number, company, department or IP address. It also contains a copy of the entity's public key.
All digital certificates have a built in expiration time that is assigned by the issuing CAserver during enrollment. When a digital certificate is used for VPNIPSec authentication of ISAKMPSA (IKE), the communicating device certificate expiration time is checked against the VPN endpoint system time. This ensures that a valid, unexpired certificate is used. The certificate is invalid when the system time is earlier or later than the certificate issue time. The certificate is valid if the system time is equal to or within the period between the time when the certificate was issued and the time when it expires.