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Public-Key Infrastructure (PKI)

Complete Definition

Public Key Infrastructure or PKI can be a very complex but important subject. We’ll give you a PKI overview to help you understand what PKI is and how it can help you. PKI is a loaded term that involves the hardware, software, policies, and standards that are necessary to manage SSL certificates. A PKI lets you:

  • Authenticate users more securely than standard usernames and passwords
  • Encrypt sensitive information
  • Electronically sign documents more efficiently

A PKI allows you to bind public keys (contained in SSL certificates) with a person so in a way that allows you to trust the certificate. Public Key Infrastructures most commonly use a Certificate Authority (also called a Registration Authority) to verify the identity of an entity and create unforgeable certificates. Web browsers, web servers, email clients, smart cards, and many other types of hardware and software all have integrated, standards-based PKI support that can be used with each other.  A PKI is only as valuable as the standards that are established for issuing certificates.

PKI Wikipedia Definition

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