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5 Things You Should Know About PKI Certificates And Infrastructure

Understanding public key infrastructure will help you manage your PKI programs. If you plan to implement a PKI system for your enterprise, you need to know about a few important factors.

By definition, it’s a set of procedures required for creating and managing digital certificates and security keys. There is a common misconception that PKI is an old technology and irrelevant today.

Conversely, that’s not true, and PKI is becoming more relevant with the wide adoption of Cloud technology and DevOps. Here you will know about the five important things related to pki certificate and infrastructure.

Things to Know About PKI certificates

It’s not necessary to learn everything about PKI to implement a PKI system in your organization. However, the following five things will be helpful for you to create and manage public-key encryption.

1. CA is the Core of the PKI System

Certificate Authority (CA) is the central part of a PKI system. It’s responsible for the issuance of digital certificates. The PKI system cannot exist without the certificate authority. So it’s necessary to secure the certificate authority.

The main function of the CA is to issue a certificate revolution list, self-signed certificate, and other digital certificates. The additional certificates include people, networking devices, mobile phones, etc. Therefore, CA is the most important part of a PKI system.

2. HSM is the Asset

Although the Certificate Authority (CA) is the key component of a PKI system, Hardware Security Module is a critical asset. It stores all the public and private keys of the PKI system.

Every PKI system has several subsystems that have their public and private keys. HSM is a highly secured device that protects all of these keys.

3. PKI is Used as an Authentication Process

PKI has different use cases such as wi-fi authentication, VPN authentication, web application authentication, email security, and more. However, it depends on your organization and your security needs.

If you want to access wi-fi access, you need to have the CA for accessing the secure network. Similarly, if you want to get access to a web server, you need a CA. For email security, both the sender and receiver must have a certificate signed by the CA.

4. Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption

Symmetric encryption is a simple and faster way to encrypt and decrypt data. It’s a popular method of data encryption and one of the oldest techniques. Although the encryption and decryption processes are faster, there is a risk for security. It uses a single key for all purposes, which is less secure than asymmetric encryption.

Asymmetric encryption is a complex method that includes a public key and a private key. But it makes the data encryption process secure and robust. A user with a private key linked to the public key can only access the information from the network.

5. The PKI Process

Now you have a brief understanding of the PKI system. Let’s know how the PKI process works to exchange data securely. We will take the example of web application authentication for this purpose.

If you want to access the data from the web server, you need to have the public key provided by the webserver. When you connect to the server with the public key, the server generates a private key, and your communication is kept secret. This helps the user’s information protected from theft and misuse.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, the above information has helped you to understand what is public key infrastructure. It’s a process by which you can create, store, distribute, and manage data securely in a network. There are many complex topics related to the PKI system.

However, you don’t need to understand each and everything for implementing it in your organization. If you want more information, you can learn from online cybersecurity blogs and communities. Lastly, please share your queries and opinion in the comment section.

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