What is PKI?

Denise Moller

Many people regularly interact with PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) technology and simply don’t realise it.

That’s because PKI sits quietly in the background helping to validate identities needed for a range of systems such as online banking and digitally signed documents.

PKI is essentially a system of software, hardware, policies and processes that allow you to encrypt and sign data.

You have probably heard the term digital trust. With so many transactions happening in the digital world, people need to know that any organisation that is holding their data is doing so in a secure environment. Ie that there is digital trust.

PKI helps to facilitate digital trust by issuing digital certificates that verify the identity of devices, users or services. If a certificate is issued by a provider that a server trusts, and knows, then the server will accept that digital certificate as identity proof.

Encryption using cryptographic keys

For fans of the Da Vinci code, you may remember the cryptograph. Move forward a few hundred years and cryptography is now used to encrypt digital data using private and public keys.

PKI uses cryptographic public keys that are connected to a digital certificate. A public key is issued by a trusted digital certificate authority to anyone who requests it. The public key then authenticates the sender of the encrypted message.

Private keys are kept secret and ensure that only a recipient can open and read an encrypted message.

To use email as a basic example, a sender’s private key signs the message while the recipient’s email client uses the sender’s public key to verify the sender’s signature.

Why PKI?

PKI is used because it provides an infrastructure to secure data and ensures the integrity of the data stays intact. It therefore gives organisations some surety that only authorised individuals are accessing their systems.

Unsung uses PKI as part of our range of solutions to help secure your systems against the ever evolving threats within the cyber landscape.

Learn more about our PKI management and hosting.


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