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Does a typical computer begin with any shared secret with a certificate authority when I buy it? If not, a compromised home router could fake everything and get my credit card info when I attempt to buy something, even if I were careful to use https.

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I assume your question was:

Does a computer ship with CA certificates preinstalled?

This is the case.

The standard OEM installation of Windows (and all other OS) on a computer ships with a preinstalled list of trusted certificates.

Here are the lists for Windows and iOS.

Even if you had CA certificates in your store that were preinstalled, they don't come there from nowhere. Windows updates the preinstalled list through Windows Updater. The connection to microsoft is also encrypted, so that you can trust the updates to be from microsoft.

  • That equivalently makes my credit card info safe, thanks for explaining. I can go to ControlPanel->InternetOptions->Content->Certificates and see when a certificate is valid, etc., but do you know how I can see when it was first installed on the computer? By the date, I could tell if it was preinstalled and feel safer. – bobuhito Jul 31 '14 at 17:24
  • It would be nice to view a log of installation dates and any "update to the public key" dates for all certificates. I'm surprised that I'm not able to find this easily in Windows 7, so can someone direct me to it? or confirm that information like this is not stored (though I can't believe that Microsoft would not store this)? – bobuhito Jul 31 '14 at 19:19
  • The certificates are stored in the registry. I think you could check back the last modified date of the given registry keys, but I'm not sure as I've no windows. – user10008 Jul 31 '14 at 19:24

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