Public key infrastructure is arrangements used to bind public keys with identities of respective user by means of certificate of authority. There should be unique user identity for each certificate of authority. Establishment of binding is through registration and issuance process which is carried out under human supervision or software at a certificate of authority depending on assurance level. Registration authority assures this binding where each user identity, their binding, the public key and validity conditions are made in a manner that it can not be forged in the public key certificates that are issued by the certificate of authority.
Why Public Key Infrastructure Is Important
Public key infrastructure enables users of unsecured public networks for example, internet to privately and securely exchange data and money by use of private and public cryptographic key pair obtained and shared through a trusted authority. It also provides for digital certificate that is used to identify an organization or individual and directory services used to store or revoke the certificates. (Warwick, 1998 pp50-55). Public key infrastructure enables computer users with no prior contact to use information in public key in their public key certificates to be able to encrypt messages to each other. It has a client software, smart cards, server software, assurances, legal contracts and operational procedures.
Public key infrastructure enable parties in any dialogue establish message integrity and confidentiality without the need for exchanging any secret information in advance and do not need any prior contact. Public key infrastructure supports digital signatures that enhance security of transaction, services that are essential such as certificate revocation and validation, key backup and recovery. Updating key pairs simultaneously helps to minimize work load of administration for public key infrastructure. It also supports cross certification which creates truly federated identity through enabling integration among circles of trust.
The other importance is that, it enables users to have large communication; partners and consumers transact and communicate in a dynamic way. It is reliable and cost effective where it does not involve use of huge amount of money. Public key infrastructure system is closely tied to enterprise directory scheme when public key of employees are stored together with his personal details for example, phone, e-mail, department and location. This saves time in retrieving the data that is needed because once the name of employee is known; all the necessary information concerning him or her is easily available in the same place. (Baum, 1998 pp 56-59).
How It Relates To Information Technology (It) Security
Communication security establishment operate and manage public key infrastructure bridge. It signs and manages common certification authorities that certify public key infrastructure. As information technology security, establishment of communication security helps in developing technical documentation and operational standards with respect to risk and vulnerability analysis, analysis of system and networks security and product evaluation in consultation with policy management departments and authority as they relate to public key infrastructure and applications that are related.
Information technology security give advice and assist policy management departments and authority on standards of operation and technical documentation. When managers follow the advice given to them, their departments will be able to perform well and to the expectations of organization as a whole. They will assist the employee in performing their duties so that at the end they are able to do quality work that brings the desired results. (Steven, 1998 pp 23-26).
Strategic security services are provided and technical advice to support implementation, design and operation of public key infrastructure and critical related elements of infrastructure. They develop and provide training which is specialized with respect to vulnerability of networks, conduct related research and development and appropriate mitigation strategies. Information technology maintains and advice architecture of overall system of public key infrastructure. It operates and manages merging technology test bed for supporting interoperability test between secure emerging technology applications and key public infrastructure.
Business requires making partners, customers and suppliers more efficient, demands ways of securely opening up networks and applications. They look for different ways of carrying out business in order to enjoy the benefit of business communication and commerce provided by online channel opportunities which includes consumer web applications and business partner extranets.
Authentication solutions have been costly and cumbersome in the past. There has been limited proliferation of these solutions. With VeriSign, customers are able to move to an easier and ubiquitous universal authentication solution relying on VeriSigns services of security to offer high breed security for internet and network resources. Managed public key infrastructure fast track is used for enterprises to secure small scale applications. Enterprises are able to control issuing of digital certificates to internal and external users while processing tasks of outsourcing data like generation of digital certificate, renewal, validation and revocation. (Steven, 1998 pp27-30).
Warwick F. and Baum M. (1998): public key infrastructure interoperation: Science and Technology Spring, pp50-59.
Steven S. (1998): Incorporation by reference and public key infrastructure: VeriSign, pp23-30.