PKI Authentication Definition

KZero Staff
Oct 17, 2023

With PKI authentication, it’s possible to use a certificate to validate data that needs to be transmitted through a specific communication channel. With PKI authentication, you have a public key that is shared and used to validate the identity of the person transmitting the data as well to decrypt the message that is received. The private key, on the other hand, is used to encrypt the data before sending it.

The most common ways PKI authentication is used today include:

  • Encryption for email (this usually leverages software such as OpenPGP and S/MIME);
  • Encryption for documents and files (usually leveraging XML Signature and XML Encryption);
  • Authentication services based on IoT or applications;

The main reasons why you would want to use PKI authentication include being able to authenticate the source of the data, reaching a certain level of privacy thanks to the public key encryption, preventing any kind of man-in-the-middle attack, and being able to validate the source of the data.

One of the most common applications of PKI authentication is SSL.When you are using your browser and you see the icon of a lock next to the URL of the website you are visiting, that means that website is using a certificate-based authentication with Public Key Infrastructure.This allows you to know that the connection to that website is secure—for example, if you do not see that icon, you should never enter personal information such as credit card details or social security number.

KZero Staff

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