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Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

An understanding of Public Key Infrastructure, which is a collection of technologies used in IdAM.
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Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

PKI is a collection of technologies. It entails a set of roles, policies, and procedures. PKI is an arrangement that binds public keys to the respective identities, which can be of people or organizations. This binding between a public key and the user, or the organization, is established and managed by a Certificate Authority (CA). This means there is a huge amount of trust involved.

Do we trust that CA?

Well, certificate services have been around for a long time. Windows and other environments let you produce your own certificate authority.

Why don’t we all use our own CA?

Well, within your Active Directory domain, all your computers will trust your CA. Would a third-party, Amazon, Microsoft, or a customer trust your CA? Possibly not.

The quality of the trust that you place in the CA dictates the reliability of the PKI. Common PKI certificate authorities include companies like Google, Microsoft, and Komodo. If you look in your repository for your workstation or for your browser, you will see that most big, popular certificate authorities are by default trusted by your browser and your workstation. You have a certificate container, and you have a list of trusted certificates. This means that any certificates that those CAs issue will be trusted.

In the next step, understand how PKI manifests in the IdAM context.

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Cyber Security Foundations: Reinforcing Identity and Access Management

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