Public Key Infrastructure – What is PKI?


    Nowadays Public key Infrastructures is anticipated to support greater numbers of users, applications and devices across complex ecosystems. Also, with more strict government and industry information security regulations; business applications and mainstream operating systems are becoming more dependent on an organisational PKI to guarantee trust.

    Businesses are becoming more dependent on electronic transactions, and digital data; and consequently face severe data privacy compliance difficulties and information security regulations. As the enterprise is increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks as well as malicious insiders; business networks and applications now depend on the use of digital credentials; to control how users and entities gain access to sensitive data and critical system resources.

    What is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)?

    A Public key infrastructure (PKI) is the combination of policies, processes, hardware, software, and procedures necessary to create, manage, use, distribute, store, and cancel digital certificates and public-keys. The PKI is the foundation that allows the use of technologies, like digital signatures and encryption, through large user populations. Public key Infrastructures deliver the components that are crucial for a secure and reliable business environment; for e-commerce as well as the developing Internet of Things (IoT).

    The main Components of Public Key Infrastructure

    A typical PKI ecosystem consists of the following key components

    Certificate Authority (CA)

    The Certificate Authority is an entity which is like the “root of trust” so to speak; within a PKI implementation. The CA gives out digital certificates that represent the ownership of a public key. Therefore it is responsible for the authentication of identities in the ecosystem.

    A Registration Authority (RA)

    This is also known as a subordinate CA, which is used to validate the registration of a digital certificate using a public key. Each time a verification request of any digital certificate comes through, it goes to RA. The RA then makes the decision on whether to authenticate or not authenticate the request. RA can also issue certificates for specific use cases depending on the permissions granted to it by CA. Moreover, Digital certificates are normally issued and signed by sub-CAs.

    Certificate Policy

    Fundamentally, the certificate policy is known as the security requirement; that defines the chain of command and structure of the Public key infrastructure network. Moreover, it describes policies surrounding the managing of; keys, safe storage and usage of keys, cancellation, and certificate profiles or formats; and other details.

    Certificate Database-PKI

    The purpose of the certificate database is to issue and revoke certificates

     Digital Certificate

    A digital certificate is known as a “digital identity” within a device. It offers secure authentication skills between servers and devices; therefore, allowing access to files, services or other remote resources. And, the sub-CA typically distributes it.

    How Public Key Infrastructure works

    PKI is the outline of encryption and cyber security which protects communications between the underlying server and the client. Therefore, It operates by using two different cryptographic keys which are; a public key and a private key. So, the public key is accessible by any user that connects to the website. However, the private key is a unique key created when there is a connection which is kept undisclosed. While communicating, the client makes use of the public key to decrypt and encrypt; and the server utilises the private key. Hence, this ultimately protects the user’s data from theft or tampering.

    Uses of PKI

    There are so many different uses of PKI such as in smart card logins, in protecting email messaging, the encryption of XML documents and client system authentications. Overall one can use PKI in all scenarios where it is crucial to protect data. Furthermore, It is used to secure communication between two devices in the Internet of Things (IoT). Public Key Infrastructure is also used a lot in, healthcare, governments, finance and military. Not forgetting in the Managing of enterprise-class databases.

    The Importance of PKIs is growing

    With developing business models depending more on digital documents and electronic transactions; and with the acceleration of Internet-aware devices connecting to corporate networks; the purpose of public key infrastructure is therefore not limited to isolated systems anymore; like secure email, encrypted web traffic or smart cards for physical access.

    PKIs assists in the setting up of the identity of people, services and devices; which enables controlled access to resources as well as systems, accountability in transactions and protection of data. Business applications of the next generation are increasingly relying on public key infrastructure technology for higher assurance; as developing business models are becoming more reliant on electronic interaction demanding online authentication and compliance; by firmer data security regulations.


    Whether you are looking to secure your personal data, your organisation’s data, or secure IoT devices, PKI is perfect for the job. PKI will give you complete security and protect your identity guaranteed. There are other options out there, but in my opinion, PKI works best.