Your 10-Minute Guide to PKI and How Internet Encryption Works

From securing e-commerce transactions to encrypting data sent via email and verifying software packages, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and encryption are essential to secure online communications. But what exactly is PKI, how does it work, and what role does it play in encryption and internet security as a whole?

What Is Public Key Infrastructure?

The internet is an inherently insecure and dangerous place and PKI is the intricate ecosystem the internet relies on for security. It’s what allows us to make purchases and submit sensitive personal information safely and securely online.

At its core, PKI is the combination of processes and technologies (and their governing policies) that work in the background to secure online communications. You use PKI every day when you:

Communicate securely with a website via HTTPS, Send or receive an encrypted email, Allow your OS to verify a software installer before executing it, Set up secure server-to-server communication, and Connect an IoT device securely to a gateway or server.

But what exactly does Public Key Infrastructure help you do? In a nutshell, PKI allows you to:

Use verifiable identity to your benefit. Your digital identity makes it possible to accurately identify who (or what server) you’re connecting with. It also enables you to authenticate yourself to access protected resources (in specific circumstances). Protect the data you store or transmit online. This is done using encryption. If you don’t encrypt your data (or the channels it transmits through) when sending data online, then it travels

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