Public-Key Infrastructure Certificate

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What Does Public-Key Infrastructure Certificate Mean?

A public-key infrastructure (PKI) certificate is a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate that uses public-key infrastructure for encryption and authentication. This is a specific type of SSL certificate used in Internet transactions to establish trusted connections over the network.

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Techopedia Explains Public-Key Infrastructure Certificate

SSL is the most common method for Internet security. It involves the use of digital certificates that are administrated by a trusted certificate authority. Public-key infrastructure is a system for public networks, where encryption uses a set of public and private keys to provide security. The public-key infrastructure certificate can identify users and organizations, and in some cases, can revoke certificates if security protocols are not met.

Public-key infrastructure certificates work on the idea of public-key cryptography. In order to unlock the encryption, the public key has to be supplemented with a private key that is held by a trusted party.

PKI for SSL certificates is an emerging protocol that is delivered in a number of ways by different vendors. Experts are working on an Internet standard for this type of Internet security.

In the most common type of public-key infrastructure certificate process, the public key is in a public directory. The certificate authority provides the private key according to requests by users. The fact that the private key is not publicly available is the backbone of this authentication and encryption system.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.