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What is the difference between an x.509 “client certificate” and a normal SSL certificate?

I'm getting really confused with WCF and certs. I have a WCF service which will run on a server w/ SSL enabled. Now, when i configure transport in WCF i have the option to specify a certificate. Do i need to do this since the service is already running on SSL-enabled server? If so, my other question is what type of a certificate do i need to purchase? There is a myriad of certs available and based on my research not all certs will work with WCF. Can anybody clear this up for me? I appreciate any help.


After more research I came across this MSDN thread which basically verifies that SSL certificates can in fact be used with WCF. Here is the quote from an MS employee.

WCF does not require certificate capable of Data Encipherment or Non-Repudiation key usage. WCF uses the certificate keys ONLY for encrypting the symmetric key and so certificate capable of Key Encipherment should work just fine. We do not check the Non-Repudiation key usage at all so I dont think that would be a requirement for WCF. To verify I just ran a simple WCF client and service using cert that has KeyUsage: Digital Signature, Key Encipherment and the client-service communication succeeded. I confirmed using SslNegotiated and MutualCertificate message security modes.

  • 2
    Kinda sorta like this question: security.stackexchange.com/questions/1438/…
    – Steve
    Jul 26 '11 at 17:46
  • Thanks for the comment. That cleared things up a little bit. If you post it as answer, I'll accept it.
    – Sergei
    Jul 26 '11 at 18:14
  • @SteveS, so why didnt you flag for a moderator's attention?
    – AviD
    Jul 26 '11 at 21:05
  • @Sergei, welcome to the site! Please don't forget to search the site, there are many good questions already answered here... But if there is anythign still missing, feel free to ask !
    – AviD
    Jul 26 '11 at 21:08
  • @AviD I thought I did. :/
    – Steve
    Jul 27 '11 at 0:07

Well, okay: What is the difference between an x.509 "client certificate" and a normal SSL certificate?

I think it should just be closed and flagged as duplicate though.

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