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A public key infrastructure (PKI) allows users of the Internet and other public networks to engage in secure communication, data exchange and money exchange. This is done through public and private cryptographic key pairs provided by a certificate authority.
There are different types of systems in a PKI:
A certificate authority (CA) is the entity providing the keys. The private key will be given to the person requesting the key. The public key is made public in a directory for users. No one can ever find out what someone’s private key is, never being available on the Internet. The private key is used for proving user identity and encrypting the digital certificate. The digital certificate will be decrypted by the public key, which is used by the message receiver.
There are several companies enabling a PKI. The registration process for a digital certificate begins with a registration authority (RA). This refistration must take place before the CA knows whether or not the user will be issued a certificate.
There are many pieces involved in PKI. Properly enabled, these provide smooth, transparent and secure communications.