Public Key Infrastructure

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) refers to the technical mechanisms, procedures and policies that collectively provide a framework for addressing the previously illustrated fundamentals of security -  authentication, confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation and access control . PKI enables people and businesses to utilise a number of secure Internet applications. For example, secure and legally binding emails and Internet based transactions, and services delivery can all be achieved through the use of PKI.

PKI utilises two core elements; Public Key Cryptography and Certification Authorities.

 

Elements of PKI

A typical PKI consists of hardware, software, policies and standards to manage the creation, administration, distribution and revocation of keys and digital certificates. Digital certificates are at the heart of PKI as they affirm the identity of the certificate subject and bind that identity to the public key contained in the certificate.

A typical PKI includes the following key elements:

  • A trusted party, called a certificate authority (CA), acts as the root of trust and provides services that authenticate the identity of individuals, computers and other entities.
  • A registration authority, often called a subordinate CA, certified by a root CA to issue certificates for specific uses permitted by the root.
  • A certificate database, which stores certificate requests and issues and revokes certificates.

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