Data security has become paramount. Every time you provide your information online, it can be hijacked by hackers and used maliciously.
For this reason, cryptography becomes essential in keeping confidential data private and secure. Cryptography uses a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) framework to protect data. At the heart of PKI is the distinction between public and private keys.
Understanding the difference between public and private key infrastructure can be confusing, even for those in the cybersecurity industry. From code signing with Keyfactor Code Assure to managing digital certificates, this article aims to explain the concept of public and private key infrastructure in simpler terms.
What Is Public Key Infrastructure?
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a security system that uses digital certificates and public key cryptography to ensure that electronic communications are secure. PKI involves three fundamental components: a certificate authority, registration authority, and end entities.
The certificate authority issues and manages digital certificates, which are verified by the registration authority. End entities are computer systems, applications, or individuals that use digital certificates to establish secure communication.
PKI is utilized in various aspects of communication, including secure email, web browsing, and e-commerce.
Understanding Public And Private Keys
Public and private keys are a matched pair of cryptographic keys created for data decryption and encryption. The public key is shared publicly, while the private key is kept secret.
Public keys are used to encrypt data, while private keys are used to decrypt it. When you want to send an encrypted message, you encrypt it using the recipient’s public key, which only they can decrypt using their private key.
Conversely, when someone wants to encrypt a message to a sender, they use the sender’s public key, which is only decryptable by the sender’s private key.
How Do Public And Private Keys Ensure Security?
Public and private key infrastructure ensures secure data transmission between two parties. A sender uses the public key of a receiver with a digital certificate to encrypt the message.
The message is sent across the network, where the digital certificate is verified using the registration authority. The receiver then decrypts the message using their private key.
Because the private key is kept secret, it cannot be intercepted, and hence, the message remains secure.
Differences Between Public And Private Key Infrastructure
While public and private key infrastructure use PKI, they have distinct characteristics. Public keys are, as the name suggests, public and can be shared with anybody. Private keys are kept secret and are shared only with trusted entities.
Public key infrastructure is primarily used to establish secure communication between different parties, while private key infrastructure is commonly used to authenticate and authorize access to digital resources.
Public Key Infrastructure
Public Key Infrastructure is a system in which the public key is made available to anyone who wants to send encrypted data to the recipient. The public key is stored in an SSL certificate, a digital certificate that verifies the identity of the website or application.
The SSL certificate can be obtained from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA), an entity that verifies the identity of the website or application before issuing the SSL certificate. Code signing is also often used in these instances.
Private Key Infrastructure
Private Key Infrastructure is a system where the private key is kept secret between the sender and the recipient. The private key is never shared with anyone else and is only used to decrypt the encrypted data with the corresponding public key.
Private Key Infrastructure is mainly used in environments where security is paramount, such as military and government communications.
In conclusion, cryptography and PKI are complex subjects that have become increasingly vital in ensuring digital security. However, understanding these concepts is crucial in navigating the constantly evolving digital world.
Public and private keys are an essential part of PKI, and their distinctions can affect the security of various digital communications. We hope this article has helped simplify the complex concepts of public and private key infrastructure for you.