Public key infrastructure: Security is all around us, whether it’s locking the doors to your house or apartment, wearing a seatbelt while riding in a car, using secure passwords on our devices, and taking reasonable precautions when dealing with strangers.
Short for public key infrastructure, PKI is a security system used by many websites to protect users’ information from being accessed by anyone other than the intended recipient.
Although PKI is most commonly used online, it can be applied anywhere that information needs to be protected or authenticated; in fact, you may be using this security system right now to protect your emails and chats without even realizing it!
This guide covers everything you need to know about PKI security. Public key infrastructure
Table of Contents
Let’s start little background on PKI—what it covers and how it works. The core principle of a PKI is that data transmitted over the internet needs to be encrypted in order to keep information secure while being transferred from one device to another. This type of security requires two pieces of information: a public key and a private key.
Your public key is like your home address; anyone can access it. The private key is like the keys to your house: you don’t give it to anyone, and they’re required in order to gain entry into your home (i.e., unlock the data).
To illustrate how PKI works, let’s use an example. Let’s say you want to send a message to your friend, Ben. You’ll need some information from him first: his public key and his private key (which he keeps on a physical piece of paper).
When you send this information to Ben, he’ll be able to unlock the message with his private key, but no one else will be able to.
Now that you know what PKI is and how it works, let’s talk about why you should use it Public key infrastructure
If you’re sending sensitive information over the internet, then PKI is an absolute must. Imagine working for a government agency that deals with extremely sensitive information.
At the end of every workday, each employee needs to remove any documents they have on their computer and physically take them home to be locked up. If they leave the office without doing this, they could be placing themselves—and their entire organization—in jeopardy.
The same logic applies if you’re a private citizen who’s engaging in secure online banking or shopping. If you have a credit card, then there’s personal information stored on it; if someone is able to get their hands on it without your knowledge, they can access all your accounts and use your money for themselves.
A PKI certificate provides a number of benefits throughout your personal and professional life.
Here are just a few of the advantages:
- Easier secure online payments
- Protection from data theft
- Safer web browsing due to HTTPS encryption
Google’s Chrome browser uses HTTPS by default, which means that many websites using SSL certificates should be accessible without any problems. Many banks, e-commerce sites, and social media networks use this security system to protect your information, but it’s up to you to check their privacy policies before sharing any sensitive data with them. If the website you’re looking at doesn’t have an “https” in its URL and a padlock icon at the top of your window, then it’s not secure and you should avoid entering any information. Public key infrastructure
Although there are few exceptions, most people can benefit from using this security system. However, some people might want to steer clear of PKI certificates. This includes:
- People who are concerned about the privacy of their data
- People who don’t regularly do business online
- People whose job involves sending or receiving extremely sensitive information on a regular basis (e.g., government employees)
I hope this article has given you a good idea about what PKI security is, whether or not you need it, and how it works.