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No, or at least, not for any robust user authentication mechanism. (Admittedly, the certificate almost certainly contains more entropy than a typical user password, but that's not the point here.) Without a key, the decryption and signing operations cannot be performed, these are critical to X.509. An analogy might make it clearer: compared to a username ...


What you describe is unworkable. Without rewriting the SSL implementation on the client and the server, the client must have the private key for the exchange. The authentication comes from using CN as the identifier for the user - hence for webservers it contain the IP name of the server. For authenticating email addreses, the CN contains the ADDR_SPEC. ...

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