A Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a system of cryptographic technologies, standards, management processes and controls governing the use of digital certificates.
PKI is a system for supporting digital signatures and document encryption for an organisation.
It is an enabling technology in that it enables users of an insecure public network (such as the internet) to securely and privately exchange data through the use of a public/private cryptographic key pair that is obtained and shared through a trusted authority.
A successfully implemented and managed PKI assures:
A PKI is made up of
- A certificate authority that issues and verifies digital certificates
- A registration authority that acts as the verifier for the certificate authority before a digital certificate is issued to a requestor
- One or more directories where the certificates or public keys are held
- A certificate management system
PKI is the hardware and software used for encryption, signing, verification
as well as the software for managing Digital Certificates.
There are a number of related PKI enabled technologies: